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in the views of men with respect to doctrines; shades by no means so considerable as the world proclaims them. And what, my brethren, is the best test, by which these several views of the Christian religion are to be tried? I reply, the one we are now considering. That is the most scriptural and proper view of the truth, which makes men most holy, happy, and useful. It is here that we are, in good measure, content to rest the validity of the peculiar doctrines of the word of life. If such as espouse them are less zealous for the promotion of the welfare of man, in both worlds,—if they are less observant of the Sabbath, and less concerned to promote the interests of virtue and holiness in their families and neighbourhood, than they are who renounce them, it is matter deserving serious enquiry, whether they ought not to be renounced. But if on the other hand, they who embrace them are more watchful prayerful, and serious; if they are more anxious for the salvation of the guilty, and the advancement of the kingdom of Christ through the world, it is a strong presumption that they are believers of the truth. The principles which lead to such a course, have most of the spirit and power of godliness in them; and the fair conclusion is, that they are correct: “ for by their fruits we may know them."
With one reflection, I will close the present address. Let us remark the fearful prospect which the subject unfolds to wicked men, whether “ false prophets,” or hypocritical professors. It is a maxim never to be repealed, and which is in perfect harmony with all the works of God, -that “they who sow to the flesh, shall of the flesh reap corruption.” The figure of destruction by fire, employed in the text, is repeated by our Saviour in another evangelist. “Every branch in me that beareth not fruit, he taketh away.” And again, “If a man abide not in me, he is cast forth as a branch, and is withered ; and men gather
them, and cast them into the fire, and they are burned.”* Do not, therefore, be deceived on this point, I beseech you. The salvation of ungodly men, without the renovation of the heart, is impossible. Wherefore “examine yourselves whether ye be in the faith :” and be assured, that no expressions of orthodoxy will save you, if you bring not forth fruits meet for repentance. The decision that awaits us at the bar of eternal judgment, will be according to the moral state of man in this world. If that be unregenerate, and unholy, there will be a final separation from happiness and God. We are not saved for the sake of our works, but we cannot be saved without them. The fruits of the spirit are the earnest of the inheritance; and if there be no earnest, there can be no claim. The bliss of heaven is the consummation of grace on earth: the light of glory is but a greater degree of that knowledge which shineth into our hearts below. May we hear at length the animating salutation: “Well done, good and faithful servants, enter ye into the joy of your Lord.” Amen.
• John xv. 2, 6.
MATTHEW vii, 21-23.
" NOT EVERY ONE THAT SAITH UNTO ME LORD, LOP
SHALL ENTER INTO THE KINGDOM OF HEAVEN; B
This is a most solemn portion of truth, and claims our undivided attention at this time. Already the Saviour has removed many of the impediments of salvation; and now He proceeds to take away another, and one, it is much to be feared, that has proved fatal to multitudes. The sentiment of the text is, doubtless, designed as a warning to the people who were now listening to this divine sermon, against the dangerous and delusive hopes of a great profession of religion, which the Pharisees indulged: but like all the other truths of the discourse, it is of unlimited application, and belongs to men of every nation, and kindred, and tongue, and people. Nothing can be more obvious, than
that the principal end and uniform result of Christianity, is to regulate the heart that receives it, and mould the life into a conformity with its Divine Author. If its origin be from above,-if it have descended from the throne of God and the Lamb, like the crystal stream in the desert, it will rise as high as the fountain whence it has flowed, and bear upon its bosom all who are imbued with its influence. Nothing, therefore, can be more certain than this maxim, that the professor of religion who lives an ungodly life, cannot have duly embraced these divine principles of truth, which are capable of making wise unto salvation. Ah, my brethren, how many ways a man may go down to perdition ! Neglect of the soul; the dread of the world's derision; pernicious heresies, and scandalous vices, are fatal to numbers, who die as they have lived, without the fear of God before their eyes; but these are not the only ways in which the transgressor may arive at the miserable termination of his course,-a reliance on external duties without the renovation of the heart, is the bane of multitudes May the consideration of so solemn a truth, deeply affect our minds, and impress our hearts with abiding power!
I propose, by divine assistance, to consider,
· THE TERMS ON WHICH WE ARE TO BE ADMI'ITED INTO HEAVEN—THE OPPOSITE DEPENDANCE OF MANY PROFESSORS OF RELIGION,—AND THEIR DREADFUL REJECTION BY THE JUDGE OF ALL IN THE LAST
I. THE QUALIFYING TERMS OF OUR ADMISSION INTO HEAVEN: “ HB THAT DOETH THE WILL OF MY FATHER WHICH IS IN HEAVEN.”
It has been remarked in a preceding lecture, that the phrase “ kingdom of heaven,” has various significations in the New Testament. Sometimes it denotes the moral
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empire of grace in the world and the heart, and sometimes the felicity of the upper and eternal state of existence, "where all are kings and priests unto God and the Lamb." In the case before us, it is used of the latter place, and is descriptive of the final dominion of Christ in the church, at which time it shall be separated from all insincere and unholy men, and composed only of such as do the will of God in truth.
Before I proceed to the illustration of this condition of life, it may not be amiss to observe, that we are not to suppose the Saviour to mean, that without calling Him Lord, we may still do the will of his Father ; for this would be contrary to many express declarations of Scripture on the point. It is solemnly assured us, that " man can come to the Father but by the Son,” and that “ this is the will of God, that we believe in him whom he bath sent.” He cannot, therefore, in this passage, place obedience to the divine will in opposition to faith in his name; but He compares the false profession of faith with that which is true; and declares the futility of that which does not lead to activity and devotedness in the service of God. That is true faith which is made manifest by obedience to divine precepts.
What then is it to “do the will of our Father which is in heaven?” The question is important, and involves an enquiry in which we are all individually interested. The expressions here used are of frequent occurrence in the sacred volume. Thus the apostle in his exhortation to the pious Hebrews remarks: “ Ye have need of patience, that after ye have done the will of God, ye might receive the promise.” Such was the language of the same individual, when his own heart was first subdued by the power of grace:
“ Lord what wilt thou have me to do?” So likewise the three thousand or the day of pentecost, and the jailor at Philippi, under the influence of divine