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gradually going on; the privileges of adoption will be more and more precious ; till at length the new-born babe will grow up unto the full stature of the spiritual man : and, awaiting in peace the hour of his departure, be taken to his rest; and on the resurrection morn he shall spring up burnished and beautiful, and walk to and fro, as a king and a priest, through the paradise of God. And is it not “good” for the contrite sinner to be able to “
prove” from the Word, that the Creator of all things calls himself his Father; pities and loves him even in the days of wickedness; encourages him to come at once just as he is, without any preparation of worthiness, or works, or merits; urges him to apply at once for a spirit of repentance and of faith, to the appointed Advocate of sinners; offers him the grace of His Holy Spirit to convert, and renew, and sanctify, and preserve him, and unite him, once and for ever, to the blessed company of the righteous. For these are righteous, not through any doings or desert of their own, but through membership with Him who is our Living Head—the Lord our righteousness.
Having thus treated, but briefly, some few of the “ all things” that may be proved good-we must defer others till some future opportunities. The approaching festival of Easter will necessarily connect itself with the scenes of the Crucifixion and Atonement—with the doctrine of the resurrection, the ascension, and the out-pouring of the Spirit: and we shall ever be anxious on festival Sundays to draw your attention towards the event to be specially celebrated : for these special occasions should be made days of festival for the soul.
But we must pass on to point out, secondly, SOMB ENCOURAGEMENTS TO HOLD PAST" THESE GOOD THINGS WHEN PROVED.
Let each hearer before me be mindful to prove for himself the truth of what has been spoken. Let him offer up the silent prayer—“ Open thou mine eyes, O Lord, that I may see wondrous things out of thy law :" and then when he hath waited thus humbly for the Spirit's teaching, let him be careful to “ hold fast” the soul-saving truth.
When thou hast proved that thy God is a being of justice as well as of mercy, then hold fast the truth; lest the deceitfulness of thy heart persuade thee that he will overlook thy failings as unworthy His notice. When thou art tempted to pride thyself on thy freedom from gross sin, and upon the fewness of thy failings, and the multitude of thy virtues, then dash away the delusive draught of flattery, and “ hold fast” the truth that thou art ruined and wretched in the sight of thy Maker; that in thine own natural estate thou art unable and unwilling to cleave heartily unto the Lord. Atonement for thine iniquities thou must not attempt: the worthiness of thy works thou must not plead : thy sorrow for the past, and thy promises of amendment for the future, cannot of themselves propitiate God's favour. “ Hold fast," then, unto the mighty truth, that there is but one way for a sinner to come acceptably unto the mercy-seat; even through Him who is appointed the Way, the Truth, and the Life. He only can grant what the sinner needs. He only can satisfy what the law demands. Christ Jesus the Lord is Messiah unto the Jew, and King and High Priest unto the Gentile. “ Look unto him and be ye saved all the
ends of the earth." “ As Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of man be lifted up; that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have eternal life.”
“ Whosoever believeth"_“ Hold fast," we encourage you, unto this word “ whosoever." There is no restriction in the free mercy of Jehovah : the blood of the Mediator was shed, and the body of the Mediator was broken for you, and for me, and for every outcast of the family of Adam. “ Hold fast" also unto the soul-saving truth, that a man cannot believe without the indwelling of God the Spirit. He is the only converter, and sanctifier, and comforter of souls; call upon him in every time of need, and he will send down sufficiency of grace.
And do we need encouragements thus to “hold fast ?” Then turn to the epistles to the seven Churches of Asia, and ponder on the promises to all who “ hold fast” unto the end. Days of weariness and days of fainting may be in store for us all; but “ to him that overcometh will I give to eat of the hidden manna, and will give him a white stone, and in the stone a new name written, which no man knoweth saving he that receiveth it." “ Remember therefore how thou hast received, and heard, and hold fast, and repent."
There are blessings in store for thee, the glory of which surpasses all description. Amid the storms and billows of life, thou shalt find the security of having thy bark lashed to the Rock of ages.
“ Hear, once more, the message of thy God. “ Hold fast that which thou hast, that no man take thy crown.' “Thy crown,” says thy Lord. And can it be that, after proving man thus helpless, and guilty, and ruined, he should be told
a crown as his own, and a kingdom as his own? Can it be that, after having humbled the natural man in the dust of corruption, we are to exalt the spiritual man to the glory of immortality ? This, brethren, is the mighty encouragement to hold fast. Though thou art now dead in trespasses and sins; though thou art self-righteous and self-satisfied yet once let the Spirit stir thee, and unite thee by a living faith unto that body of which Christ Jesus is the Head, then art thou an heir of God-joint heir with the Son of God-and shall sit on his throne even as he is seated on his Father's throne: and however wretched, and forlorn, and persecuted, here, thine shall be a crown, and a diadem, and robes of glory on that bright morning of springing from the tomb—the magnificent coronation day of the saints; and then shalt thou offer this song of thanksgiving: “O Lord, we praise thee that thou didst urge us to prove all things ;' for now, by thy grace, we have held fast; now, by thy grace, we have won our :rown."
THESE words exhort to what is the bounden duty of every Christian. The Bible allows no compromise with sin; no halting between two opinions; no neutrality in the Christian warfare. It makes, indeed, allowance for timid doubts and feeble efforts: it provides for cases of temptation and depression; it tells how the weak may be made strong, the fainting revived, and the backslider restored. Yet, as to the grand choice, the resolution, the course of life, God in his Word speaks very plainly: "If the Lord be God, follow him; but it Baal--if the world, if Mammon, if pleasure-follow them." And so here in our text: "Yield yourselves unto God." The duty, and the motive which persuades us to this duty, shall be our present subject.
But why is this our present subject? I answer, It is one important to all of us at any time; and not the least to my young friends preparing for confirmation. If there are any here who think they hear too much of confirmation at this time, I must beg of them to bear with me. It is a serious thing to have the ministerial responsibility of preparing more than one hundred souls for the public profession of the Christian faith: I feel that they need all, and more than all, I can do, by public and private instruction, exhortation, and prayer, lest any among them should, after all, fail of the grace of God. I feel that such a season may be eminently blessed to many others also. The Christianity they are going to profess, is what some of us have professed for years past. What ought to be penitence, faith, obedience, and devotedness in them, ought to be of the very same character in ourselves. Hence I do expect, through God's grace, a season of revival of genuine religion amongst us. Looking for that grace, I do, and will, hope, that this may prove quite a spring-tide to our congregation: that while the warm beams of the vernal sun are every day causing the buds to swell, and the blossoms to burst forth, in the natural world around us, the brighter beams of the Sun of Righteousness will shine into all our hearts; revive and quicken the work of grace within; re-animate the aged with the fervour of youth; fill with new energy the Christian in middle life; and so penetrate and pervade all our youth, that we may have from among them a large accession, not of Christians in name only-not of churchmen, or protestants, or religious professors, in name only; but of humble penitents, true believers; meek, intelligent, and devoted Christians, prepared by the grace
of God to serve him faithfully, and to adorn the doctrine of God their Saviour in all things.
Now in order, my brethren, to have such a season, many prayers must be offered up. The youth must pray: their parents and friends—I hope I need not say-inust be peculiarly urgent in prayer: ministers, I am sure, ought to pray. And with prayer, if sincere, will follow corresponding exertion. Peculiar duties now devolve on each and all: on us to instruct and counsel the young, both in public and in private, with faithfulness and affection : on parents to second our endeavours with all that mighty and affectionate authority—the authority of parental love, wherewith God hath kindly intrusted thein : and the young, I am sure, will feel that, while parents, and friends, and ministers are all active on their behalf, they are not to look on as idle and unconcerned spectators. They have the work of preparation to pursue ; the Bible to read and study with new interest ; their baptismal vows to consider; their past lives to examine ; good resolutions to make ; sins to renounce; their course of life to choose; their Saviour to love; and his grace, which can alone enable them for all, to ask for in earnest prayer from day to day.
In this spirit, my brethren, of prayer, with determination for corresponding exertions, let us all consider the duty recommended in the text ; and the motives which, with God's blessing, will persuade us to the duty.
TAB DUTY is simply this : “ Yield yourselves unto God." In these few words you have the sum and substance, not only of confirmation, but the suió and substance of the whole Christian profession; the sum and substance of the three great promises made for us at baptism, and to be renewed by every one in his own person in after life. For here is comprised the great first promise, the renunciation of every kind of sin. Only look at the preceding verse : “ Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, that ye should obey it in the lusts thereof. Neither yield ye your members as instruments of unrighteousness unto sin : but yield yourselves unto God, as those that are alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness untu God.” Here also comes in the second great promise—the hearty belief of God's revealed truth. For when we want motives to yield ourselves unto God, it is there at the articles of our faith, and the doctrines of our Bible—that we must look : there we are taught to know, to love, and to trust God the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, in their varied offices in the covenant of grace: there we have the mighty motives of the Father's love, of the compassion of the Saviour, of the grace and influence of the Holy Spirit. And here, in our text, we have also the third great promise of the Christian--obedience to all God's commands, in their wide, extensive, practical application : “ Yield yourselves unto God.” Submit to his easy yoke, give way to his authority; follow his commands. There is a peculiar tenderness in the exhortation, “ Yield yourselves unto God." It is not “ Submit yourselves as slaves unto God;" but, “ Yield yourselves :" be led, be inclined, be moved, be persuaded, to give up yourselves unto God, at his kind and gracious invitations.
And this duty of yielding yourselves unto God, is, we must admit, one of very wide and extensive meaning. We are to yield ourselves. That, of course, must include all we have and all we are—our body, soul, and spirit; the outer and the inner man: all talents and endowments intrusted to us our time, our health, our strength-all are to be cheerfully yielded unto God. To all these (on which I shall presently enlarge more particularly) to all these we are particularly bound and obliged-graciously obliged; whenever, and at whatever period of life, we truly and heartily enter into covenant with God, through the Mediator, the Lord Jesus Christ : we are bound to this at baptism. For what, after all, is baptism, but the solemn dedication of ourselves to God, with earnest prayer for his regenerating grace, accompanied with the pouring of water, the consecrated sign, token, and pledge, of the purifying, refreshing, and sanctifying influences of the Holy Spirit; and with solemn promise on our part, flowing from the promise of God, to give ourselves (and surely it is the least, and, at best, a poor return we can make) to give ourselves truly to God: to renounce what he forbids; to believe what he promises ; to obey what he enjoins.
But this great dedication of ourselves was made for most of us, I suppose, in infancy: and,when rigthly understood, a great mercy was there. Only think, my young friends, before you had strength to walk to the house of God, your friends carried you thither, after the example of the pious parents in Judea ; who brought their children in their arms to Jesus for his blessing. Before your tongues could speak, or your minds could think, they thought, they spoke, they acted, for what you may now discover, and rejoice to discover, to be for your truest good. “ This child,” they say, in faith, and hope, and love—“ This child shall be a Christian. If the prayer of faith can obtain for him the blessing of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, he shall be a Christian. If Christian education, from as soon as he shall be able to learn (for that was the promise) can assist to teach him to be a Christian, this child shall be a Christian indeed. If Christian example can conduce to this good end, this child shall be a Christian. Ourselves believers, ourselves rejoicing in the privilege of belonging to Christ, we here solemnly declared in this expressive ordinance, that the highest honour we desire for this child is, that he may · fight manfully under the banner of Christ, against sin, the world, and the devil ; and continue Christ's faithful soldier and servant unto his life's end.""
Since that solemn and interesting occasion many years have now rolled by with us.
And what have we been doing? How have we been acting ? Has the subsequent part of our life, thus far, been according to that good beginning? Have we, in other words, been renouncing for ourselves all sin, believing all God's truth, obeying all God's commands ? Has the prayer of faith once offered for us been answered? Has it, as yet, been the prayer of our own hearts for ourselves ? Is the old Adam, the corrupt nature, buried and gone, and the new and holy nature truly and effectually raised? Have we, in short, “ yielded ourselves unto God ?" If one may speak for all, the answer would be, No: : we have loved what we ought to have renounced, and served what we ought to have shunned; neglected the truth of God, and transgressed his commandments. The sinfulness of early life is a very humbling consideration : for it might have been supposed, that at that tender age we should not have had boldness enough to sin; that the loveliness of the character of God would have attracted us; and that the season of our lives, when hope was more ardent, the affections more alive, and the heart. more susceptible of gratitude, would indeed have been dedicated to God-the God of hope, the God of love, the God