Obrazy na stronie

hope, there can be no exertion; and every one becoming (as he must become) positively assured that the moral law could not be perfectly fulfilled, would sit down in despair—would cease to do that which was possible, and yield to every caprice of his disordered passions. But, reposing that implicit confidence in the merits of Christ, which we learn from the Gospel ought to be reposed, we are convinced, that the deficiency of our endeavours will be supplied. We shall feel, in all its invigorating force, that where our best efforts have failed to accomplish our duty, there, our redeeming Friend steps in to our assistance : there instead of absolute legal perfection the merits of Christ are imputed to us, and we are enabled, by that astonishing power, to “work out our own salvation.” With such prospects before us, is it not utterly absurd to maintain that the preaching of Christ's merits is the encouragement of vice? Is it not rather the most direct encouragement to grace and virtue? As the Apostle himself said—“Shall we continue in sin, that Grace may abound? God forbid”—and thus every rational mind will say. The more God's Grace in Jesus Christ is exhibited to us, the more are we obliged and urged to honour and obey Him ; always recollecting the golden rule which is inculcated in the words of the text, that the same Grace which bringeth salvation, teaches us likewise “to deny ungodliness and worldly lusts "—that “we should live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world.”

It is wholly unnecessary, I feel, to dilate upon the meaning of these latter phrases. Every man, however ignorant, has from nature and from the society of which he forms a part, the most distinct apprehension of what God and his fellowmen require. He knows that ungodliness is opposed to the word and to the worship of his Creator ; that worldly lusts are all inordinate desires for the things of this world. He knows, that he ought carefully to abstain from fraud, from oppression, from extortion-in short, from every appearance of evil ; and moreover, that “his light should so shine, that others may see his good works, and glorify his Father which is in heaven."

If I have rightly explained to you, my brethren, the comprehensive passage of Scripture which has to-day been selected for the text, it remains, that you should attentively consider and suitably practise, what you have heard. Upon the Grace of God all your salvation depends. Pray then—pray, I earnestly implore you, devoutly and frequently, for the more powerful out-pouring of the Divine Spirit. You yourselves best know the plague-spots of your own hearts——the sin that doth most easily beset you. Pray then that it may be His will to aid its removal. Watch it with incessant care. Mortify it by every possible method, and study with deep and anxious zeal the eternal lessons which the Grace of God communicates. And may we all grow in that Grace and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. Amen.




“ Where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty.”—2 Cor. iii. 17.

The reflecting mind, as it dwells upon the various powers and properties of creation ; as it observes the falling body drawn toward its centre—the river, ebbing and flowing, in regular alternate change, and the sun daily accomplishing his destined course, clearly distinguishes the necessity by which they are impelled. The foliage of the tree withers, dies, and is similarly reproduced; the fruit is renewed in due season ; the flower returns impressed with the same colours and rich with the same perfume. In the animal world, the wolf preys unremittingly on the flock, the swallow builds her nest, and the bee rifles the blossom of its treasured sweets. There is no change in the tenor of their habits -no deviation from the general system. Hence we gather, with unquestioned certainty, that they are not the disposers of their own actions, but are driven by the mere impulse of unerring instinct-by the inevitable laws of forming Nature. We turn to man, and behold him the wayward child of uncertainty and vicissitudeyielding and denying precisely for the same reasons—under similar circumstances widely different—at the like events now joyful, and now depressed—now treading capriciously in the paths of virtue—now floundering desperately in the sinks of vice. And it is this striking versatility, which demonstrates the natural freedom of the human race—that liberty of action, which not only enables him to be the arbiter of his own conduct, but also the judge and disposer of all other creatures.

It is this sovereign character which elevates man almost to an equality with angels—a character which God alone is able to deprive him of. Let universal tyranny conspire against a single human being—let the tormentor put in force the most excruciating devices of savage ingenuity—let demons be let loose in all their imagined fury, the liberty of mind is assured ; neither angel nor devil can assault it with suc

The freedom of the will yet remains—the innate power of liberty yet triumphs over every hostile attack. Remark how the spirit of the meekest man rises against oppression-how constantly the most grovelling minds repel the infringement of their political liberties; and then estimate the value of the Christian's natural right—that enfranchisement of soul upon which hangs an eternal kingdom. When we have done


« PoprzedniaDalej »