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blance of the moral image of his Saviour. In both, the world is left out of sight. On earth, the worshipper abandons every other plea, but that of Christ’s righteousness; in heayen, he gives him all the glory of his salvation, and casts his crown at his feet. On earth, the saint enters into rest, and has peace; a few weep all along the road to the heavenly Canaan. But in heaven, all is peace and joy, without temptation or interruption. The confidence of their own safe§: which some persons of defective character possess, who are evident§ self deceived, possessing no more an a natural love of God, gives much encouragement to the impenitent. Even the desirable experience of others, whose change is the more discernible, because they have been reclaimed from extremes of sin, and sometimes also the false raptures of enthusiasm, produce an imputation of superstition; and thus prevent the investigation of the truth. There are many whose faith is weak, love languid, jöy not great, comforts few; who experience dulness in duties, and barrenness in prayer; who come to the communion, ... because afraid to ab
stain, and who daily doubt, whether
they have been renewed and justified. Yet there may be something of the savour of spiritual things in them, and a determination, if the must perish, that it shall be in seeking Christ.
This undesirable state of weakness, which is neither remarkable for keen distress, nor exulting joys, may nevertheless, be upon the whole conducive to vigilance, and progressive in holiness. Those who are thus sensible of their imbecility, are often alert to exclude the usual encouragements and consolations of the gospel, and to decide against themselves. Nevertheless, where there is such a sense of unworthiness; where even the feebleness of hope produces an accession of humility, and leads to a closer walk; or where Vol. I.
the mere probability of arriving at the possession of a saving interest in Christ, animates to seek more purity of heart, and a nearer approach to God, there may be room to conclude, that the work is a saving one, which is begun in the soul, and that the individual will at length arrive at the haven of eternal rest. When the love of public ordinances, and practice of other religious duties, with patience, perseverance, and resignation unto the divine will, are progressively advancing, and the mind becomes more weaned from the world, and fixed on heavenly objects; the proofs of justification, and acceptance, are such, that the timid believer ma venture down into the shadowy valley, and not fear to find, beyond the Jordan, the promised inheritance of ceaseless joys. J. P. WILson.
amined, carries conviction to the human mind, as well as the demonstrations of Euclid, or the facts collected to support some general principle in natural philosophy. The truths belonging to these several classes, differing from each other in their nature, require of course for their establishment different processes of reasoning: but it were irrational to imagine, that the great Author of our being had left unsupported by suitable evidence moral truth, which so intimately concerns us as intelligent and accountable creatures, both here and hereafter; while he has so constructed the human mind, and so framed the material world, that the other kinds of truth are supported by the clearest and most satisfactory evidence. The proofs connected with the former class are sufficiently plain and strong to answer the purposes of his moral government, and to render inexcusable those who neither receive nor seek after the truth. Criminal neglect of the means of information and aversion of heart to the truth, will be found at the bottom of that ignorance by which so many immortal souls are ruined. He who knew all the secrets of fallen man, and all the hidden springs of his action, has traced this matter to its proper source, in that solemn affirmation so reproachful to human nature: “ This is the condemnation, that light has come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil.” John iii. 19. It would demand too wide a compass of discussion to meet the infidel skeptic on the proper ground, and prove the attainment of moral truth to be practicable, by demonstrating the fact, that God our Creator has blessed the world with a revelation comprising a discovery of all that is necessary to be believed and done in order to salvation. We design by the subsequent remarks to endeavour to remove
wrong impressions that may have been made on the minds of individuals who yield to us the fact that we do possess a divine revelation. Such there are, who, although they subscribe to the claims of the Bible to a heavenly origin, yet seem to imagine the revelation of God to have been made in such a manner, that the knowledge of its contents is an attainment, if not wholly impracticable, yet attended with almost insurmountable difficulties. In the belief of this notion they are confirmed by a view of the Christian world. They see one church opposing another church; one class of divines contending with another class; now one system of doctrines prevailing in a particular denomination of Christians, and then after the lapse of some time a very different system gaining the ascendant in that same denomination: and yet all professing to derive their faith from the same inspired book. Hence they are led to conclude, that the attainment of truth must be very uncertain; and that the laborious search demanded in making it, not being likely to be rewarded by success, should not be attempted. These are delusive and dangerous impressions. If we ascribe them to the want of information, it ought not to be forgotten that this deficiency may be traced to a secret aversion from the truth that has prevented due inquiry. Let such individuals look more closely to the state of Christendom, and they will find that all who deserve the name of sincere followers of the Lord Jesus Christ, in all churches meriting the name of a Christian church, are more united in their faith than they imagine; that all such disciples agree in the belief of the fundamental doctrines of our holy religion, however divided on points of minor importance, and in respect to the !. of church government. Some indeed who as: sume to themselves the name of
Christians, reject what all other professing Christians regard as essential to the system of divine revelation: but by this criminal rejection of essential doctrines of the gospel, they cut themselves off from the visible church, and become nothing more than deists, with a Christian name. Of such we do not speak, but of sincere Christians of all other denominations: and we assert that they do agree in maintaining the unity and trinity of the Godhead, the deity and mediatorial character of Jesus Christ. They do believe that man was at first created in a pure, holy and happy state; that he fell from it by his own wilful transgression; that mankind have, in consequence of the apostacy of Adam, been involved in a state of sin and misery; that we can be justified only through the righteousness of Jesus Christ; that it is necessary to be regenerated and sanctified by the operations of the spirit of God, in order to be qualified for the holy employments and enjoyments of heaven; that good works, though not meritorious, yet are indispensable in the life of every true Christian; that there is a future state of rewards and punishments. Now in the belief of these doctrines, and others that might be mentioned, all sincere disciples of Christ throughout the world are agreed: and whoever believes these doctrines with the heart, shall be saved. Christians, it must be confessed, are lamentably divided in sentiments; but they are not so greatly sundered apart in this respect as many suppose, and others would wish the world to believe. In all fundamental and essential doctrines they are united. They have one faith, as they have one Lord to rule over them, one Spirit to teach them, and one hope to cheer and animate them in their Christian course. Such unity of faith among true Christians, we might anticipate
from the very design of a divine revelation. Unquestionably it was given for the instruction of mankind; and surely it would be unreasonable to suppose that its fundamental doctrines were delivered in a manner so obscure, that those who, with humble, teachable and prayerful minds, sought to become acquainted with them, could not discover them with sufficient clearness to produce a general harmony of faith. This would be a reflection both on the wisdom and goodness of that merciful Being, who has vouchsafed his light and instruction to our benighted and ignorant world. We open the Bible, and rejoice to find there is no ground for such a reflection. Its pages are luminous. Its great doctrines are delivered with much perspicuity. Any man of candour, not blinded by preconceived notions, and willing to learn the truth, may, with proper diligence, and in the use of those helps which God has provided, acquire a knowledge of the great and leading doctrines of the gospel, and, by a divine blessing sought with earnest prayer, may become wise unto salvation. The attainment of revealed truth is then practicable: and as it may be gained, so the acquisition is important on account of its PRACTICAL INFLUENCE. * With many it is a favourite maxim, “No matter what a man’s creed is, provided his life be good.” It is possible to put on this maxim a construction that will render its meaning less mischievous. It might be interpreted to signify that it is not important what may be the sentiments of a man on certain controverted points of subordinate consequence, provided his conduct be such as becomes the gospel of Christ. But if any be disposed to use it in this qualified sense, it is plain enough that many adopt it on the broad principle, that the belief of the doctrines of divine revelation is not essential to a good life. Indeed there are some who maintain one religion to be as good as another for all necessary purposes; and that if men be only sincere in the ractice of the religion they proess, they will be accepted by the Judge of all. From this opinion it will follow, that the Hindoo prostrating himself before the idol Juggernaut, and defiling himself with its impure and filthy rites, pleases his Maker, as well as the humble believer, who lies, with penitential shame, at the foot of the cross of Christ, and fervently supplicates the purifying influence of that precious blood which cleanseth from all sin! It will follow, that those infatuated savages, who worship the Devil, will meet with approbation in the final day, as well as those holy Christians who worship Jehovah alone, and abhor the ascription of divine honours to any but the Supreme Being, who made, upholds and governs the world! Such wretched absurdities have actually been published in one of the newspapers of this city. In opposition to all loose opinions in regard to the practical influence of the truth, we maintain, that if a man’s creed be essentially defective, his life can not be good. We speak not of that exterior morality, which many wish to substitute in #. of inward piety. By a good life we mean a life of holiness; a course of action flowing from a regenerated heart. All works proceeding from any inferior principle, how lovely and praiseworthy soever in the estimation of men, are in the sight of God dead works, which he will not accept. An inspired writer has plainly taught this truth: “They that are in the flesh cannot please God:” Rom. viii. 8.; that is, all who act merely from the principles of their depraved nature, being destitute of a living faith in Christ, and a holy iove to God, can not yield the obedience which is demanded; and of course the eye of infinite Purity
cannot look upon them with approbation. A life of holiness, which alone is worthy of being denominated a good life, springs from a belief of the truth, and is never seen in persons who reject the essential doctrines of the gospel. Truth lies at the foundation of duty. There is a Being of infinite excellence, who made and governs all things: on this truth is founded the duty of loving, worshipping and obeying our Creator. Our glorious sovereign has given us a law for the regulation of our conduct; and hence it becomes our duty to observe all the precepts of this law. Man is a fallen and depraved creature: from this truth springs the duty of humiliation and repentance. God has appointed Jesus Christ as mediator between himself and sinful men: on this truth rests the duty of seeking intercourse with our offended Maker through the mediation of his Son. A sinner cannot possibly be justified by his own righteousness, but he may be justified by faith in the righteousness of the Redeemer: on these two important truths is founded the duty of renouncing dependance on our own righteousness for justification, and relying simply on the righteousness of Christ for obtaining this great and necessary blessing. The Holy Spirit is the efficient cause of the work of regeneration and sanctification in ever Christian’s heart: from this truth springs the duty of paying peculiar regards to this divine person, and of seeking his renewing and sanctifying grace. Jesus Christ is the true God: on this truth is founded that indispensable duty of honouring the Son even as we honour the Father. Thus it appears, that every truth nas its corresponding duty. , Let any man believe with the heart these leading truths of divine revelation, and he will in some measure perform the duties which grow out of them. But suppose a man rejects any of these truths, is it reasonable to expect he will regard the duties which are founded on them P Will he who denies the deity of the Lord Jesus Christ, and believes him to be nothing more than a mere man, pay to him the same divine worship which he presents to God? Will he who denies both the personality and godhead of the Holy Ghost, show him the regards that are due to this divine person, and implore his renewing and sanctifying influence P. Will he who rejects the atonement of Christ, make it the foundation of his hope for eternity? Will he who believes he can by works merit the favour of God, renounce dependance on his own, and rely on the righteousness of another for acceptance at the bar of his final judge? Error leads to sin, as truth to holiness. The depravity of our nature does indeed oppose the influence of truth, so that it has not its complete effect on our hearts; and God is pleased, by various counteracting circumstances, to diminish the deleterious power of error, so as to prevent the mischief that would otherwise result from it. Still, however, the natural tendency of the one is to produce a sinful, and of the other to produce a holy life. The sacred scriptures furnish the most conclusive evidence of the
great importance of revealed truth
on account of its practical influence. Indeed the very fact that we have a divine revelation does itself constitute indisputable proof, that truth is essential to our restoration from a state of sin to a state of holiness. Why did the Lord Almighty bless the world with a revelation of his mind and will? Why were such pains taken in forming the Bible? Why were prophets and apostles raised up in long succession, and inspired each to write his allotted portion of that holy book?, Wh
did Providence watch over it wit
such peculiar care, preserving it from the ravages of time, and the
malice of kings and emperors who sought its destruction ? Why were such astonishing miracles wrought in confirmation of its truth, and to propagate the belief of its doctrines in the world P. It will not be pretended that all this was done merely to amuse the human mind, or to gratify its curiosity by supplying it with subjects for barren speculation. A nobler purpose was contemplated by the infinite Mind. The revelation of God was given for the high and * ... of calling sinners out of darkness into marvellous light, and of delivering them “from the power of darkness,” and translating them “into the kingdom” of God’s “dear son.” Accordingly we find, that salvation is ascribed to the truth. “I am not ashamed,” declares the great apostle, “of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth.” Rom. i. 16. Not only is salvation in this general manner attributed to the truth, but every essential constituent part of salvation in particular is ascribed to its influence. Is faith necessary to salvation? This is represented as a product of the truth: “So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.” Rom. x. 14–17. Is repentance a part of salvation ? It results from the preaching of the truth. Paul declared to king Agrippa, that he “shewed first unto them of Damascus, and at Jerusalem, and throughout all the coasts of Judea, and then to the Gentiles, that they should repent and turn to God, and do works meet for repentance:” Acts xxvi.20; and it is well known that the word of God dispensed by this great apostle, did not return void, but prospered in the accomlishment of the purpose for which it was sent, and that thousands became sincere penitents and converts to Christ. What brought the three thousand to repentance on the memorable day of Pentecost? Was