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extent of christian responsibility, arising from the certainty that the material world around us will one day be dissolved, and "a new heavens and a new earth" supply its place, "wherein dwelleth righteousness." With the ground of the apostle's exhortation we shall, for the present, have nothing to do, and therefore I have detached the text from the context. The use which I wish to make of it is to introduce the subject of CHRISTIAN RESPONSIBILITY, and the manner in which I would press its claims on your attention is by enlarging on the dying words of a devoted christian minister,* which form a most interesting and spirit-stirring comment upon the text. When he had reached that stage of dissolution at which the soul is wont to call in her rambling faculties, and commune with herself in forgetfulness of all that is without, he was heard to burst forth into the following strain of holy thought:
* Dr. Payson.
I am а
"What an assemblage of motives to holiness does the gospel present! I am a Christian-What then? Why, I am a redeemed sinner, a pardoned rebel, all through grace, and by the most wonderful means which infinite wisdom could devise. I am a Christian-What then? Why, I am a temple of God, and ought to be pure and holy. Christian-What then? I am a child of God and ought to be filled with filial love, reverence, joy, and gratitude. I am a Christian-What then? Why, I am a disciple of Christ, and must imitate him who was meek and lowly in heart and pleased not himself. I am a Christian-What then? Why, I am an heir of heaven, and hastening on to the abodes of the blessed to join the full choir of glorified ones in singing the song of Moses and the Lamb, and surely I ought to learn that song on earth!"
It may give additional interest to the enquiry on which we are entering, to
shape the subject in answer to the emphatic ejaculation, "I AM A CHRISTIANWHAT THEN?" Oh! to what unbounded fields of anxious and interesting enquiry does that question lead! It leads us back to the eternal counsels of Jehovah as revealed to us in his word; it leads us into the inmost recesses of our own hearts, that we may learn what we ought to BE; it carries us out into the field of the world and instructs us what we ought to Do; it raises our thoughts and affections to the "holy, blessed and glorious Trinity," the God of our salvation, our Father, our Saviour, our Counsellor, our Friend; it travels forward to the utmost bounds of time, it overleaps the pit of the grave, it enters eternity, and stops only where the feeble and finite spirit of man is constrained to stop. And shall we enter on such an enquiry without lifting up our hearts in prayer to him who alone can guide us into truth? Deliver us, O Lord! from such presumptuous folly. Humble
us under a sense of our own ignorance and weakness, and then-"O send forth thy light and thy truth, let them lead us, and bring us to thy holy hill, to thy tabernacle."
The great difficulty in commencing a religious course, or in entering on that close and sifting self-enquiry which precedes it, is to take the first step, to set out fairly and resolutely on our way, with such a measure of holy determination as shall enable us to shake off the clinging habit of indifference and insensibility, and overcome the first obstructions that beset our path. The causes of this difficulty do not lie deep in the case of those who have only "a name to live." The unchecked corruptions of their own hearts, the deceitfulness of sin, the triumphant devices of Satan, the engrossing pursuits of business or pleasure, the bewitching influence of the course of this world, render the multitude secure in their ignorance and indifference respecting all that lies involved in the simple
name of Christian. Their carnal security is aptly described under the striking figure of the Prophet-" Moab hath been at ease from his youth, and he hath settled on his lees, and hath not been emptied from vessel to vessel, neither hath he gone into captivity. Therefore his taste remained in him, and his scent is not changed!"* But it shall not be always thus. "Therefore," adds the Prophet, "behold the days come, saith the Lord, that I will send unto him wanderers, that shall cause him to wander, and shall empty his vessels and break their bottles." But the same tendency to settle down in lukewarmness and self-satisfaction remains in the true Christian. That evil nature which reigns in the unconverted lusts for dominion in him. Those evil influences which lead captive the one, lead astray the other. They lull where they cannot kill, they spoil where they cannot destroy. And therefore, says the word of the Lord by the mouth of other prophets, "Woe + Ver. 12.
Jer. xlviii. 11.