« PoprzedniaDalej »
where I am, there shall also my servants be.” “If any man serve me, him will my Father honour.” Pray, therefore, with all sincerity and earnestness, for the spirit of Christ, that you may be enabled evermore to serve him with fidelity, and to follow him with constancy in the life of holiness, of which he has given you an example; and then when he appears, you shall also appear with him in glory, and be highly honoured of his Father, who will take a pleasure in exalting the true friends and disciples of his beloved Son. every one that nameth the name of Christ, depart from iniquity,” says the apostle.
I wish, in conclusion, to address a few words to two classes of persons, both of whom are desirous of serving Christ, but yet are in such opposite states of mind on the subject of salvation, that the one need to be rebuked, while the other requires a word of consolation.
The former are the self-confident and selfrighteous, persons who are in the habit of estimating their hope of heaven solely by the advances which they think they have made in holiness, and never seriously refer to Christ as the author of their salvation. I do not speak of those who have persuaded themselves that the gospel contains no such doctrine as that of the atonement for sin ; of them I will only remark by
upon their principles they ought to reject that name at which every knee shall bow, and use some other instead of Jesus, since they admit of no Saviour, they hope to save themselves. I speak of those who have no thought of deliberately denying the doctrine, but who do not practically confess it, who do not entertain a lively feeling of its truth or importance in their hearts, who do not build their religion upon that foundation. To them I say, remember the name of him whom
call Lord and Master, and whom you wish to serve as such; it is JESUS, you are followers not of a mere teacher or prophet, or lawgiver, but a SAVIOUR; you must therefore accept him in his true character, you must be persuaded of your need of him as a Saviour, you must believe in him as a Saviour, you must love him as a Saviour, you must put your whole trust in him as a Saviour, you must approach God through him as a Saviour. It is by no means sufficient merely to acknowledge that he is so described in the scriptures, and then to endeavour to work out your own salvation independently of him, however sincere your piety and however earnest your
devotion may be; faith in him, not simply as a messenger of God's will, but as a Saviour, must be settled in your hearts as the source and root of all your religion; and this is
necessary, not only as being an honour due to him for the great work which he has accomplished on your behalf, or due from you because you enjoy the inestimable benefit of that work, but also as being the most powerful and efficacious motive of christian practice. For the necessity of our having such a Saviour is the most decisive proof of our corruption, the most persuasive argument to humility and repentance, and the fact, that he was actually sent into the world to die for our sins, is the most convincing evidence of the holiness of God, and therefore of the necessity of holiness in us, of the love of God, and therefore of our great obligation to love him for his goodness, and our fellow creatures for his sake. Cast away
therefore all your confidence in yourselves, for you will never possess the true christian spirit, nor live the true christian life, nor entertain a well grounded hope of heaven, if
you endeavour to work out your salvation in self-dependance, and consider the works of righteousness you have done, or shall do, as the only ground of security. But receive Christ as a Saviour, trust in him alone as able to render all your own services acceptable with God, and then your repentance, and faith, and love, and holiness, and hope will all be settled on the right foundation, will be more lively and active, and will (through the merits of
your Redeemer, and the aid of the Holy Spirit,) be finally effectual to the saving of your souls.
To those, on the other hand, whose consciences are distressed and alarmed, who think themselves so imperfect and unworthy as to have no hope of the favour of God or the happiness of heaven, who when they search their hearts and examine their lives, find such evidence of frailty and sin, that they fear they must be outcasts, abandoned, reprobate, lost,--to them also as to the others, but with a different motive, I say, remember the name of him who would not have come into the world, but because men were in that miserable condition in which you perceive yourselves to be it is JESUS. The angel who addressed the shepherds would
- Fear not, for behold I bring unto you good tidings of great joy which shall be to all people, for unto you is born a SAVIOUR." You are conscious that you cannot save yourselves, that there is nothing whatever in your hearts, nothing in your lives, nothing that you ever did or can do, that merits as a right, any favour, still less eternal life, at the hands of God. Exaggerate your sinfulness as you please, you cannot think too humbly of yourselves; but at the same time you cannot think too highly of the mercy of God, or of the merits of your Saviour. Here is your encouragement and consolation, not in lightly regarding your offences, nor in over-valuing your sincerity and endeavours in religion, but in this assurance, that however much sin
have abounded, grace has abounded much more, and that Christ is able to save to the uttermost them that come unto God by him.
You have no hope but in God's mercy, and the satisfaction of his Son; and you do right to entertain no other hope ; but that hope is fixed on a firm foundation and will never make you ashamed. Cling to it, and let it not go. You are sinful and infirm, and for this very reason a Saviour came to redeem you; and the conviction that you are sinful and infirm should lead you to that Saviour for refuge and for safety. If you were not so convinced, I should say, you are far from the kingdom of God, for you will receive no pardon, unless you perceive your need of it; but because you are convinced, therefore I say, you are assuredly objects of mercy, and in the way of salvation. God will love you the more for so magnifying his mercy, and exalting the gracious work of his blessed Son's atonement, by your humility and deep conviction of sin. But be cautious not to depreciate or dishonour either by despairing of salvation; for were all the sins of the whole world accumulated in your own person, God could still forgive and Christ could save; fruitful