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sary for man's spiritual welfare-all that leads to a devotional spirit, and supreme love to the Divine Being, is omitted, while every error and delusion is cherished, which can encourage to a life of formality, and keep from the conviction of sin, righteousness, and judgment to come.”
Baneful, however, as the example of worldly professors is to many persons, and calculated as we have seen it to be, to strengthen delusion, and to keep from the knowledge and love of God, there are those, who, from various circumstances, have in some degree escaped from its influence.
Perhaps they have been accustomed to read with attention the sacred Scriptures, and sojourning with those who made a religious profession, but whose spirit and conduct were completely of a worldly kind, they have been struck with the inconsistency presented to their view; or, they may have read söme accounts of the lives of real Christians, and have there seen how different their conduct was from that of their friends. Or they may see the difference in the deportment and spirit of living Christians, notwithstanding all the prejudices which their minds had previously imbibed against the people of God. They may, in short, have come to this conclusion respecting the matter ; that if obedience to the requirements of Scripture be necessary to constitute the Christian character; and, if the life of holiness, displayed by those who are called 56
called “ righteous over much,” bë really the service which God requires, then, their friends are wrong. A mere profession of religion is not enough.
Such a conviction may exist in the minds of individuals who are not taught by the Spirit of God. Hence it is, that though some may feel and speak to themselves in this way, they yet continue to be satisfied with “a form of godliness, while they deny the power thereof." Or at least there is no desire to become partakers of spiritual religion. They may have at different times, and from peculiar circumstances, convictions that all is not right. But a form of religion, without the heart or affections being interested, is so congenial to human nature, that they go on from day to day, self-condemned, and occasionally constrained to be more strict than usual, in certain outward religious duties.
But when the Spirit of God has enlightened the understanding, and shown in some degree the nature of true religion, and that God requires purity of heart and life; then, it does appear more evident that worldly professors are altogether wrong, in fancying a form of godliness to be enough. There will now be a continual comparison going on in the mind of the inquirer, between the principles and conduct of the formalists, and the principles and conduct enforced in the word of God. Still indeed, the influence of a worldly profession, will be partially felt, and there will be an unwillingness to pronounce an outward respect for religion, and attention to some of its ordinances, altogether worthless in the sight of God. There may be an idea cherished in the mind, that it is rather uncharitable to conclude, that such persons are mocking God, thắt Jehovah rejects their persons and services with ab
horrence ; and that on that day, when the destinies of unnumbered millions are determined for ever, they will be found among the number, who have said, “ Lord, Lord," and did not the things which he commanded : and on whom the tremendous sentence, of everlasting banishment from the Divine presence will be passed. And yet how necessary
is it, that individuals partially convinced of the inadequacy of a mere profession, should be shown from the Scriptures how utterly unavailing it is, and that there is no violation of Christian charity, in speaking of such professors, as exposed to the displeasure of God. Nay, that they themselves-will be placed in the same condemnation, if they have “ a name to live, while they are dead :” that their own peace of mind and eternal happiness are connected with scriptural views of this important matter. It is supposed, that such persons are desirous of information. ' Any farther remarks that
may be made, will be to assist their inquiries. In doing so, we must appeal to the Scriptures, and try to ascertain the mind of the Spirit of God, on this momentous subject.
There, we can discover without any difficulty, that God requires more from his intelligent creatures than a mere profession of religion, and an attention to external services.
If we direct our attention to the Old Testament, we shall there discover the claims of Jehovah, and the necessity of consecrating the heart and the affections to Him. How comprehensive are his words ! “ Thou shalt love the Lord thy God, with
all thine heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy might.** The promise which God gives to the truly penitent, includes this blessing : “ And the Lord thy God will circumcise thine heart, and the heart of thy seed, to love the Lord thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, that thou mayest live.”+ Jehovah announced to his servant Samuel the following important truth : “ The Lord seeth not as man seeth, for man looketh on the outward appearance, but the Lord looketh on the heart.”+ David declares his conviction that God required the homage of the heart.“ Behold, thou desirest truth in the inward parts."S“ If I regard iniquity in
' mine heart the Lord will not hear me."
5 I know also, my God, that thou triest the heart, and hast pleasure in uprightness.” When we turn to the New Testament, every page presents the extensive, spiritual claims of Jehovah. They are confirmed and enforced by new and powerful reasons.
Faith in Christ is required as necessary to salvation; and this faith is described as producing holy effects in the hearts and lives of all who possess it.
Thus, it is said, “ These are written, that ye might believe that Jesus is the Christ, and the Son of God, and that believing ye might have life through his name.
66 Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and thou shalt be saved." ++ “ If thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath
• Deut. vi. 5. $ Ps. li. 6. ** John xx. 31.
+ Deut. xxx. 6.
# 1 Sam. xvi. 7.
raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved."* « For the grace of God, that bringeth salvation, hath appeared to all men; teaching us, that denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world."+ His true people are described and distinguished by various epithets and qualities, which cannot possibly apply to mere professors of religion, They are called “ Children of God." Rom. viii. 15-17. Gal. iv. 6. The salt of the earth and the light of the world. Mat. v. 13, 14. Peacemakers. Mat. v. 9. Sons of God. Phil. ü. 14, 15. Partakers of a divine nature. 2 Peter, i. 4. A new creation, 2 Cor. v. 17. As washed, and sanctified, and justified. 1 Cor. vi. 10, 11. 1 Thess. v. 23. And when we also examine the exhortations, admonitions, warnings, and promises, addressed to professors of religion, it is plain that they can only apply to saints--to those separated from the love of the world, and whose hearts have been renewed by the Spirit of God. Here it can only be necessary to refer to those Christian graces which adorn the Christian character, mentioned by the apostle Paul in his Epistle. Rom. xii. 9, to the end of the chapter. Let the reader examine that portion of God's word, and he will see what a professor of religion is required to be.
Besides these passages of Scripture, if we examine the biography of the sacred volume, we shall
* Rom. X. 9.
+ Tit. ii. 11, 12.