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the world through lust. This is one particular which distinguishes him from what other men are, and from what he himself once was. This, then, is one particular of the change which took place when he became a Christian. Then first, he heartily owned himself a sinner before God. Then first, he gave up his efforts to excuse and hide his guilt. Then first in all his life-time, yielding to the convictions of his conscience, he said, I will confess my transgressions unto the Lord. Then first, be renounced bis perverse and rebellious disposition, and began to long and strive in earnest to be purified from sin.
4. A Christian is one who depends on the atonement and intercession of Christ for pardon and final salvation. He receives it as a faithful saying, and worthy of all acceptation, that Christ came into the world to save sinners. He is always ready to say with the holy Stephen, Lord Jesus receive my spirit. He has committed his all to that Saviour, and he knows that such a Saviour is able to keep that which he has committed unto him. This trait of character-this giving the soul to Christ for present reconciliation to God, and for final salvation—this living on Christ, in his office as Redeemer and advocate, is peculiar to the Cbristian ; and when first he thus entrusted himself to the power and mercy of the Saviour, at that precise juncture he began to be a Christian, and that was the change.
5. A Christian is one who freely yields himself to be governed and led, taught and sanctified, by the Spirit of God. The ungodly “ do always resist the Holy Ghost;" while, on the contrary, " those who are in Christ Jesus," " walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.” The men of one sort mind the things of the flesh, the others mind the things of the Spirit. “If ye through the Spirit,” says Paul to the Romans,“ do mortify the deeds of the flesh, ye shall live ; for as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God.” “ Walk in the Spirit,” says the same apostle to the Galatians, “and ye shall not fulfill the lusts of the flesh.” “They that are Christ's," he subjoins,“ have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts. If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit.” A great point then, in the change by which the Christian became what he now is—a great point in the difference between what he is and what he was—is this : once he walked after the flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind; but in the hour in which he became a Christian, in that hour he began to walk after the Spirit-in that hour he gave over his resistance of the Holy Ghost, and yielded the citadel of bis heart to be occupied and possessed by the Spirit of God and of Christ-in that hour he gave himself up to be led by the Spirit, to walk in the Spirit, to be sanctified and sealed by the influences of the Spirit, and to be thenceforth the temple of the Holy Ghost.
But we have pursued this part of our inquiry as far as our lim
its will allow, and far enough to give a definite and satisfactory answer to the question, What is the change which constitutes the commencement of the Christian life? Other particulars, and other aspects of Christian character, as distinguished from the common character of other men, might be presented; but the essential and comprehensive views have already been exhibited ; and, as these viewe, to a great extent, obviously include each other, so, taken together, they include all the traits and features characteristic of such as shall be saved. Wherein, then, consists that change by which a man becomes a Christian? Why, it consists in this, that he begins to believe the word of God, and to treat all its declarations and disclosures as deserving his most serious and practical attention; and in this, that he gives himself to Christ as a disciple, and a devoted and active follower; and in this, that whereas he has heretofore been a perverse and persever: ing sinner, he now begins humbly to acknowledge his guilt, and to live as a penitent sinner, struggling against temptation and longing to be purified; and in this, that he casts himself upon God's mercy, and begins to build all his hopes of present forgiveness and final salvation on the great atonement and the powerful intercession of Christ ; and in this, that having long resisted the Holy Ghost, he yields to that divine and blessed influence, and begins to walk after the Spirit. This is the change which constitutes a man a Christian. This is the change by which you must become a Christian, or else you must die in your sins.
II. It now remains to notice more rapidly, the various Scriptural expressions by which this same change is directly described.
1. The change is often called believing generally, or receiving the Gospel. Particular instances of this I need not adduce. But what does such an expression mean, as applied to denote this change? It means that when the man yields bis heart to the reception and belief of the word of God--that is when he begins to believe --then he becomes a Christian.
2. The change is often called coming to Christ, as in this declaration of the Saviour, “All that the Father giveth to me shall come to me, and him that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out;" or in this, “ Ye will not come to me that ye might have life.” This expression manifestly means, coming to Christ as a teacher, and Saviour, and Lord,—that is, beginning to be his disciple and follower. And this, if there is any meaning in the words of the Saviour just cited—this coming to Christ, is that change which ensures to the sinner the blessings of salvation, and without which no man can see life.
3. The change is frequently called repentance ; as where it is said, "God also bath granted to the Gentiles repentance unto life;" or, as in the exhortation, “ Repent and be baptized for the
remission of your sins.” The word thus used, obviously implies that the sinner begins to be a Christian by beginning to be penitent.
4. Sometimes the change is called conversion or turning, that is, the turning of the sinner to God. Thus God says by his prophet, “ Turn ye, for why will ye die ?” and by the apostle, using a word of the self-same significancy, “Be converted, that your sins may be blotted out.” Now what is this turning to God, for the remission of sins, and for deliverance from death? To whom does the sinner turn, when by his turning he finds forgiveness and becomes an heir of life? To whom but God in Christ? To wliom but to that God who so loved the world that he sent his Son, not to condemn the world, but that the world through him may be saved? What then is this conversion, this turning to God, but the abandonment of self-righteousness and self-will, and self-seeking, and the surrender of the soul to God's method of salvation ? Wbat is it but the casting of the soul, in contrition, in humility, in self-consecration, in ardent desires after holiness, upon Jesus Christ as an Almighty Saviour ?
5. Not unfrequently the change is called by such figurative titles as regeneration or being born again, becoming a new creature, being renewed, passing from death to life ; and especially in view of that interposition of Divine mercy, and those influences of the Holy Spirit by which it is accomplished, and of which it is not our purpose here to speak; it is called a being born of God, or a being born of the Spirit. These strong expressions are all employed to describe the greatness and comprehensiveness of the change. Nor are they-nor can they be--too strong for the purpose. What change can be greater than that in which a man comes for the first time and for ever under the controlling power of things invisible and eternal- that in which he joins himself to the standard and cause of Christ as the Captain of his salvation —that in which he begins to repent of his sins against God, and turns to a new obedience--that in which he learns to hope for forgiveness and salvation through the blood of God's own Sonthat in which he sweetly, joyfully, and for ever yields himself to be led, governed and sanctified by the indwelling Spirit of God? What change can be greater than this? It introduces him to a state of reconciliation and friendship with the King Eternal. It makes him a fellow.servant with angels ; an heir of heaven; a child of God ; beloved by Him before whom angels, awe-struck, veil their faces ; guarded and guided by that power which sways the universe ; and holding constant intercourse with the Father of Spirits, the King immortal and invísible. All this is included in that change which takes place when the man, minding the things of the flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind, dead in trespasses and sins, condemned already, and mark
ed as an heir of wrath, becomes a Christian. Is it not a new birth -a new era of life-the dawning of a new existence? Is it not worthy to be called a new creation ? is not he a new creature with whom old things have thus passed away and all things have become new? Is it not life from the dead-is it not a passing from death to life—when he whom hell was yawning to devour, is plucked from its opening gate and made an heir of glory ?-when he who was in the condemnation, in the helplessness, in the pollution, and corruption, and loathesomeness of moral death, stands up revived, purified, renewed, to rejoice in the light and to move and act in the godlike liberty of the song of God ?
This now is the change to which you are called. This is that change to which the God of grace has so long been striving to bring you. To this change, as that without which you are eternally a lost, and wicked, and ruined spirit,--all the disclosures of God's word, all the dealings of his Providence, all the kind monitions and pleadings of his Spirit, are continually pointing you. You know substantially what this change is. I repeat it- i affirm it earnestly-I know your conscience affirms it also-you understand essentially the nature of this change. And if you say that you know not what you are to do, or what you can do, to be saved, you deny your own convictions.
You see it is a reasonable change. Its reasonableness is selftestified. You feel upon your conscience the self-evident reasonableness of your passing through that change, through which the Philippian jailor passed in that hour in which he believed. Such & change is as reasonable as it is for the rebel to return to his allegiance ; as reasonable as it is that truth should be obeyed, that purity, and virtue, and holiness should be loved ; that benefcence should be admired and imitated; or that love, bleeding and dying for you, should provoke your grateful self-consecrating love in return,
PASTOR OF THE FIRST PRESBYTERIAN CHURCH, HUDSON, N.Y.
A Sermon delivered on the 14th day of May, 1841 ;
BEING THE DAY OF THE NATIONAL FAST
“ The lofty looks of a man shall be humbled, and the haughtiness of
men shall be bowed down, and the Lord alone shall be exalted on that day. For the day of the Lord of hosts shall be upon every one that is proud and lofty, and upon every one that is lifted up; and he shall be brought low : and upon all the cedars of Lebanon, that are high and lifted up, and upon all the oaks of Bashan. And upon all the high mountains, and upon all the hills that are lifted up, and upon erery high tower, and upon every fenced wall, and upon all the ships of Tarshish, and upon all pleasant pictures. And the loftiness of man shall be bowed down, and the haughtiness of men shall be made low : and the Lord alone shall be exalted in that day.-—Isaiah, 2: 11-17.
How often in the annals of the ancient church did Jehovah announce himself a jealous God! He declared that he would share his honors with no rival power, whether it were the deity of a depraved fancy or the occupant of an earthly throne. Any approach to idolatry he viewed as casting contempt on his infinite majesty. He alone must be exalted by his creatures as the object of their supreme homage.
It was in view of this high claim, and of its practical disregard by the Israelites, who had become the imitators of proud and idolatrous nations, that Isaiah was directed to utter that prophetic vindication of the Divine honor which constitutes the text, * The lofty looks of man shall be humbled, and the haughtiness of men shall be bowed down, and the Lord alone shall be ex