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grace of God which bringeth salvation, teaches us to deny ungodliness and worldly lusts, and to live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world."
Let us fix our thoughts, for a moment, on the expression immediately before us : “Thy law is my delight," and here follow my observations with attention.
By the “ law” of God, we are to understand his holy word, which comes us with the authority of law : it requires our obedience as a law. It is, like a law, the standard of our faith, and also the regulator and rule of our practice. David, doubtless, in speaking of the law of God, might include the ceremonial law; but this, being but “ a shadow of good things to come," has passed away: and therefore he principaliy alludes here to the moral law. He frequently desires that he may be able to keep it: he says, “ I delight in the law of God after the inward man.“ “ O how I love thy law, it is my meditation day and night." Language similar to which, you find in the epistle of St. Paul to the Romans, where he echoes the sentiment with a similar feeling: “I delight in the law of God, after the inward man."
In fact, my dear hearers, there is every thing in the law of God to awaken reverence and affection towards it, in connexion with this salvation. The law of God presents us with the first and most beautiful exhibition of God's moral character and his attributes. The law of God, by its types and shadows, directs us to the grand remedial means—the great propitiation which was to take away the sin of the world. The law of God, considering it as embracing the whole lirely oracles, points us to the Saviour, Christ the Lord. The law of the Lord says, that those who come to him, he will in no wise cast out. There is every thing therefore in the Word of God, and in the Gospel of our salvation, to awaken our reverence, our admiration, and our most affectionate desire.
This delight in the law of God, of which the Psalmist speaks, being of a spiritual character, its effects, you observe, must be precisely the same. But it is not an animal delight, which leaves the subject of it to find it in carnal things. It is not a merely intellectual delight, so that the individual might be content to examine it, and to approve the theory, while his heart will remain under the power of sin. No; it is a delight of a holy order; it restrains the mind of its subject from moral evil in all its various forms, and brings its subjects into resemblance to that Saviour who says, Thy law, O God, is within my heart; I delight to do thy wil!.“
Moreover, this conformity to the law is an actual earnest of that salvation which the believer earnestly desires : for he wishes to possess and to enjoy the full, the complete salvation of God. The two parts of it are exhibited to view in that promise, “ Their sins and their iniquities will I remember no more:" that is one part; and another is, “ I will write my laws in their inmost part ; I will put my Spirit within them, and they shall walk in my commandinents always, to keep them.” O yes, the individual who has found forgiveness, is the individual who cannot be content without being made holy; he feels that this is necessary, not to his security inerely, but necessary to his happiness, and to his entrance into glory, and the enjoyment of it; for “ without holiness no man can see the Lord.”
it is this, too, which characterizes, or distinguishes, rather, the obedience o the genuine believer from that of the servile slave. The iatter may perform
wany duties from a fear of punishment, from the dread of the lash, from an apprehension that he shall suffer or smart beneath the displeasure of his Master : and therefore his obedience, if obedience it can be called, is a mere task; it is an obedience which is almost intolerable for him. But he who knows something of this inward delight, he it is whose obedience is cheerful. He takes pleasure in complying with the demands of his heavenly Father. In proportion as he is conformed to the law, his pleasure heightens; and that satisfaction heightens still where there is a correspondence between the internal assimilation of his mind to the law, and the external fulfilment of its commands. It is this joy of the Lord which he shares that quickens his obedience, and prompts him to progress : “ I will run in the way of thy commandments, when thou shalt enlarge my heart."
It is this holy pleasure which tends to draw its subjects from all inferior satisfactions. He who has the fountain feels that he could do without the stream. Crowns, and kingdoms, and sceptres, and all the insignia, and all the luxury, and all the splendour of the princes, and of the kings, and of the potentates of the earth, sink low indeed in his esteem, while he knows that joy with which the stranger cannot intermeddle, that joy which is unspeakable and full of glory.
Thus the soul becomes prepared for that state where the law of God will be performed to perfection : for here, alas! there are many impediments to our compliance; some from within-our corruptions ; some from without-the temptations of Satan. The hostile associations of the world in which we live; our very cares and anxieties, which are connected with our legitimate relationships and businesses ; all these are so many hindrances. But in yonder world to which we aspire, where we shall possess to the full this great salvation of God, all these internal, and all these external, impediments will be completely removed. The soul is to be freed from sin; every thing shall disappear that is tempting or enticing to evil. The services in which the beatified shall engage, shall be pure as those of the angels of light in heaven. Yes,
Well, then, my brethren and sisters, what are your desires ? Supposing you to put the prominent wishes of your hearts into language, would it be, “ Who will shew us any earthly good—the corn, the wine, or the oil ?" Or would it b”, “ Lift thou up the light of thy countenance upon me; and this shall put more gladness into my heart, than though I had abundance of earthly possessions ?" If it be the former, call yourselves what you will, you are only worms of the earth ; you are parting with your heavenly privileges for a mess of pottage. And will you prefer death to life? Will you prefer the treasures which the moth and rust corrupt, and which thieves break through and steal, to those which neither moth nor rust can corrupt, and which thieves can never alienate from your possession and your enjoyinent? “ No," say you : “we do wish to be saved." Well, but wishing will not save you. Do you recollect what one of our own poets says
“ Wishing, of all employments, is the voito
Wishing, the constant hectic of the fool ?" You must follow up the expression of your desires by a course of action, and the diligent use and employment of means. That is, you must study the Bible; you must bend your knees in earnest prayer; you must plead the promise with importunity :-“ A new heart also will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within you: and I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh, and will give you an heart of flesh :” “ I will sprinkle clean water upon you, and ye shall be clean : from all your filthiness, and from all your idols, will I cleanse you." In short, you must follow up your wishes by a studious attendance upon the private means of grace, and upon the public ordinances of the Gospel; or else you will find that all your wishes will be in vain.
Let me beseech you, then, to go, with earnest desires, at once to the Saviour : say to him, “ Thou Son of David, have mercy upon me:" and plead with hiin that he would put forth his mighty power, and prove to you that his name is Jesus, for he saves his people from their sins. For then, if your prayer has been heard, if your application has been successful, recollect that the salvation will reign within ; and bear in mind that the salvation will appear, too, in your steady pursuit of holiness without. You will bear more of the visible image of that God whom you reverence, in whom you confide, and whom you lore: you will not be content with any thing like preparatory duty ; but you will be pressing onwards; following on to know, and to love, and to serve the Lord. The tree being made good, the fruits will be good also—the fruits of righteousness, which will abound by Jesus Christ unto the praise and glory of God. And in proportion as you are conformed to his holy law, in that degree you will enjoy something of incipient beatitude. “O the blessednesses of the man whose delight is in the law of the Lord ! for in his law doth he meditate day and night. He shall be as a tree planted by the rivers of waters, which bringeth forth fruit in his season ; his leaf shall not wither; and whatsoever he doeth shall prosper." May this be the case with you and met Amen.
PAUL'S HUMILITY AND ZEAL A PATTERN FOR CHRISTIANS.
REV. W. JAY.
SURREY CHAPEL, MARCH 8, 1835.
"Lato me, who am less than the least of all saints, is this grace given, that I should preach among the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ."-EPHESIANS, iii. 8.
Ir was foretold by the Psalmist, "Thy people shall be willing in the day of thy power:" By nature they are aliens, and enemies in their minds by wicked works, as well as others: by conversion they become new creatures; they become at once subjects and friends: they mourn over their former indifference and rebellion, and, constrained by the love of Christ, they make it their chief care, and they esteem it their chief comfort, to live, not to themselves, but to Him who died for them and rose again.
We see this peculiarly exemplified in the case of our Apostle. The first time we meet with him in the sacred history, is at the stoning of Stephen: “The witnesses laid down their clothes at feet of a young man whose name was Saul." Had a person then said to him, "Ah Saul, you will by and by embrace the same cause, and die in defence of the same doctrine;" with what indignation would he have resented the reflection, exclaiming, "What, is thy servant a dog, that he should do this thing?" But in a journey of iniquity, breathing out threatenings against his disciples, the Saviour found him in his way to Damascus, and said, "Saul, Saul, I am Jesus, whom thou persecutest." At once his heart was changed, and the raven became the dove, and the lion a lamb. "Thou hast a mighty arm; strong is thy hand, and high is thy right hand :" he falls to the ground; and, behold, he prayeth; and he rises and asks, “Lord, what wilt thou have me to do?" And he is baptized, and straitway preaches in the synagogue, that Jesus is the Christ; preaches the faith that once he destroyed: and all the churches glorified God in him. And years after this, when he came to review the scene, did he repent of this? Nay, he confirmed it; he enlarged it; he exulted in this experience, and could say, "yea doubtless, and I count" --not "I counted”—“I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord: for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them"-not "did count them," but "do count them "-" but dung, that I may win Christ, and be found in him." And as to his preaching of him, you have his language in the words of our text, "Unto me, who am less than the least of all saints, is this grace given, that I should preach among the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ."
Let us observe four things:—what he says of himself; what he says of his office; what he says of his audience; and what he says of his subject.
First, let us observe what he says of HIMSELF. "I am less than the least of
all saints." However high religion may rise in the superstructure, it always lays the foundation very low, in the deepest self-abasement. And those of you who have passed through the process, well know that the day of conviction is a day of self-annihilation; the proud looks are humbled, and the lofty looks are laid low, and the Lord alone is exalted in that day. I believe, that if there be one word that will comprehend more than another the substance of genuine religion, it will be found to be " humility." For which reason, we presume, our great reformer, Luther, when he was asked, "What is the first step in religion?" replied, "Humility:" "What is the second?" he replied, "Humility:" "What is the third?" he replied, "Humility." And does not the language of the Apostle Peter correspond with this, when he says, "Be ye clothed with humility; for God resisteth the proud, but giveth grace to the humble." As those boughs that have the most fruit bend the lowest, so the most eminent servants of God in all ages have entertained the meanest opinion of themselves. Abraham said, "I am but dust and ashes:" Jacob-"I am not worthy of the least of all thy mercies:" Job-" Behold I am vile, what shall I answer thee?" Isaiah-"Woe is me, for I am undone; for I am a man of unclean lips :" Peter-" Depart from me, for I am à sinful man, O Lord:" John, the forerunner of the Saviour-" Whose shoe's latchet I am not worthy to stoop down and unloose."
We have now to do with Paul; and you observe that, notwithstanding the proficiency he had made in the divine life, he does not deem himself sinless. "When I would do good," says he, "evil is present with me; and how to perform that which is good I find not." "I have not attained; I am not already perfect." Distinguished and honoured as he had been, he does not behave himself unseemly; he does not think more highly of himself than he ought to think; he is not puffed up: "I am less," says he, "than the least of all saints." Bad grammar, but good divinity. The fact is, that his feelings were often too powerful for expression; his meaning is too big for common utterance: and in order to impress an appropriate impression, therefore, he would make use of old words, odd words, quaint words, cramped words; and would sometimes coin new ones; all unlike those who were afraid to express striking and memorable things on the behalf of the common people, who heard our Saviour gladly, lest they should be considered coarse and vulgar.
A few words, however, will be here necessary, by way of elucidation, or rather qualification.
I hope, in the first place, you will not consider this character of Paul as the offspring of falsehood and affectation. Christians have often been ridiculed for depreciating themselves. There is, God knows, a great deal of despicable cant among many professors of religion: they indulge in very debasing language concerning themselves, not one word of which do they believe; as appears from their tempers and their carriage: for no persons are found so sensitive and resentful when their reputation is touched. The case is this: where shew is a substitute for reality, it is always excessive. Actors always surpass the original characters. Satan transforms himself into an angel of light. Some people angle for praise with the bait of humility; I hope you will never be caught by it. They condemn themselves, hoping that you will contradict them, and commend them: I hope you never will, but join them in running them down. It is better to err always on the safe side; it is better to say too little of our