« PoprzedniaDalej »
2. This doctrine presents the most vivid exhibition of the certainty of the final salvation of all who truly believe in the divine Redeemer.
Had the salvation of believers been suspended on the contingencies of their own feelings, or their own doings, what security for their final blessedness could have been obtained? Is there, however, an unalterable purpose in the mind of God ? Has there been an irrevocable grant to the Mediator of the everlasting covenant ? Is the name of every object of divine mercy inscribed in the Lamb's book of life? Is every one of them all entrusted to the guardian care of Him “who loved them and gave himself for them ?” Then trusting in things immutable, in which it is impossible for God to lie, may they have strong consolation, who have fled for refuge to “ lay hold on the hope set before them.” My sheep,” said Jesus, “hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me; and I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any one pluck them out of my hand. My Father, who
them me, is greater than all; and no one is able to pluck them out of my Father's hand. I and my Father are one. They are kept by the mighty power of God through faith unto salvation.”ť.
3. This doctrine is adapted to produce the deepest humility.
Every truth associated with this doctrine is a humbling truth. We are reminded, at every step of our researches, of some trait in our own character, or in the character of the blessed God, which is calculated to humble the heart. We are reminded, that we are, by nature, children of wrath — that by unmerited grace alone we can be saved that the reason of our' salvation is not to be found in ourselves, but only in the God of love: he hath chosen us to salvation “ according to the good pleasure of his will, to the praise of the glory of his grace.” “ Where is boasting then? It is excluded; that no flesh should glory in his presence; that, according as it is written, He that glorieth, let him glory in the Lord.”
Finally, the subject under consideration is designed and adapted to call forth the most grateful and adoring praise.
The exercise of the divine sovereignty called forth, on the part of our compassionate Saviour, exultations and ascriptions of praise. "Jesus rejoiced in spirit, and said, I thank thee, O Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that (although) thou hast hid these things from the wise and prudent, yet thou hast revealed them unto babes; even so, Father, for so it seemed good in thy sight.” To be opposed then to the doctrine of God's sovereign choice of the “ vessels of
* John X. 27-30.
† 1 Pet. i. 5.
mercy,” is to be opposed to that which called forth the complacency of the benignant Saviour. Shall your sentiments then be in unison with the emotions of the Son of God, or shall they be absolutely discordant ? If when we should cherish emotions of sympathy with the feelings of our Lord, we indulge antipathies, what inferences ought to rush upon our minds! Might he not say to us, as once he said to his impetuous disciples—“Ye know not what manner of spirit ye are of!" Let us then present the prayer of faith and fervour, that by the copious “unction of the Holy One," the mind which was in Christ may be in us; that by some hallowed approximation, at least, we may think as He thought, and feel as He felt, and adore as He adored in the contemplation of the divine sovereignty) his Father and our Father, his God and our God. “ Blessed,” then
" the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings, in heavenly places in Christ; according as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love : having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself, according to the good pleasure of his will, to the praise of the glory of his grace, wherein he hath made us accepted in the beloved !”
“Now unto Him that is able to keep us from falling, and to present us faultless before the presence of his glory with exceeding joy ;to the only wise God our Saviour, be glory and majesty, dominion and power, both now and ever. Amen."
be for ever,
BY EDWARD STEANE.
2 Cor. iv. 6.-For God, who commanded the light to shine out of
darkness, hath shined in our hearts, to give the light of the know
ledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ. Of all the elements of the natural world, light is at once the most beautiful and the most beneficial. So pure is its nature, so glorious are its attributes, and so essentially does it contribute to the life and joy of the universe, that it has become emblematical of whatever is elevated, benign, and holy; and even upon inspired authority we are told, that God himself is light. Light, if we define it, is a subtile and penetrating fluid, possessing the property of rendering every thing visible upon which it falls. It is that element which constitutes day, diffusing over the face of nature a complexion of loveliness and beauty. By means of it, we become familiar with objects at once the nearest, and the most remote, either as we restrict our observation to the scenes immediately around us, or extend it over the widest, the farthest, and the most indefinite expanse. When the Creator had called into being this his first production, it is added by Moses in the sacred record, "God saw the light, that it was good ;" and we, for whose accommodation the fabric of the world was reared and illuminated, must ever have the greatest reason for concurring in the approbation thus divinely expressed. How good must that light be which reveals to us the grandeur of the starry heavens, and the beauty of the green earth, and, by enabling us to contemplate the works of the Almighty, is leading us to the acquisition of knowledge, perpetually providing for us a multitude of pleasurable sensations, and raising in our minds the most exalted and reverential ideas of the divine perfections. So great indeed are the benefits we derive from it, and such in consequence is the estimation in which it is held, that man is seldom, if ever, called to sustain a severer calamity than that which deprives him of sight. The pathetic language in which our great poet deplores this affliction, must be well known to all who are acquainted with the sonnets of Milton, or who have read the Paradise Lost. But it may make a deeper impression still to observe, that in the descriptions which the inspired writers have given of the extremes of happiness and misery, the one is represented as being all light, and the other as utter darkness. Where the glory of God is manifested, there is light.
“ His presence gives eternal day,
And makes eternal rest;"— but his absence is symbolized by darkness and death.
Scarcely any circumstance will in general more forcibly strike attentive readers of the sacred volume, than the analogies it so frequently institutes between the phenomena of the physical and spiritual economies. A principle of composition is perpetually employed, by which the elements and appearances of nature are made subservient to the illustration, both of the doctrines which are taught, and of the occurrences that transpire under the dispensation of the Spirit. Upon this principle all those passages are constructed, which, in common with my text, speak of spiritual illumination : and because it is the property of light to make manifest, the sacred writers avail themselves of it, figuratively to represent that divine influence which is communicated to the Christian when God shines into his heart. Nor perhaps can a more beautiful or accurate analogy than this be found; for it is the proper and immediate effect of this influence to give to the individual possessing it a perception of spiritual things. It discovers to him a great variety of interesting objects to which he was before a stranger, and many others, with which he had been already conversant, it places in new positions and more striking attitudes ; thus almost literally substituting light for darkness: and in every such instance that scripture is verified, “Ye who were sometime darkness, are now light in the Lord.”
The observations which, in prosecution of my subject, I wish to submit to your serious and candid attention, will be designed
I. To illustrate the analogy between spiritual illumination and natural light.
II. To identify the agent producing them, as being in both instances the same. And,
III. To exhibit the great evidence by which it may be ascertained if, as we enjoy the one, we partake of the other also.
I. In order to derive gratification from the sense of vision, three things are requisite. There must be, first, objects to be seen, which are fitted to produce emotions of pleasure ; there must be also in the individual himself a capacity to behold them; and besides these, light must intervene to make them visible. The force of this observation, and its bearing upon the subject before us, will be immediately seen, if you suppose the circumstance of an individual being conveyed to the summit of a mountain. Were that individual blind, or should he be taken to this elevated station at midnight, or, possessing both light and the faculty of vision, should his eye roll only over a wild and sterile wilderness, it is obvious that being placed in such a condition could add nothing to his happiness. But suppose, on the contrary, the richest and most magnificent scenery to lie before him; the mountains to be clothed with grass, the valleys to be covered over with corn, the “ trees of the field to clap their hands,” and “the little hills to rejoice on every side;" and suppose this splendid assemblage of whatever is beautiful and enchanting in nature to be seen by him, when it was glowing with the warmth and brilliance of the summer's sun; under such circumstances his mind must almost of necessity dilate with admiration, and his heart overflow with rapture.
Such, then, in the application of the figure to its spiritual use, are the circumstances of the Christian. He stands upon an eminence. Divine
grace raises him above the level of unregenerated men. The scenery of the moral creation, in all its variety, extent, and loveliness, expands before him. He inhabits the new earth, and is encompassed by the new heavens, wherein dwelleth righteousness. Revelation diffuses around him the unsearchable riches of Christ, the treasures of Deity are poured at his feet, and Deity himself, in a veil of flesh, stands manifested in his presence ; while to illuminate and harmonize the whole, the light of the Spirit sheds on every part the glory of its effulgence. By the constitution of his nature, as a rational and immortal being, he possessed a capacity for the highest attainments, and the noblest pleasures. He was gifted with intellectual faculties, which allied him to invisible spirits, and made him rank but a little lower than the angels; and now that these faculties, depraved by sin, have been renewed by Almighty grace, and the eyes of his understanding are enlightened, he expatiates at large over a spiritual universe, where all the objects that strike and captivate his renovated powers partake of the novelty, purity, and grandeur of a new creation.
The unregenerate man is naturally endowed with the same capacities as the Christian. Under similar circumstances he is equal to