« ZurückWeiter »
in the man who moved steadily on in the ways of God, till his Master called him? You are thinking, perhaps, while you read, of two old men, contemporaries who died, it may be, in the same year, members of the same communion, the one having hardly deviated from the path of life an hour, while the other has seemed to be alternately a Christian or a worldling, as the times were.. Now which of them seemed manifestly to fall asleep in Jesus, while the other was saved perhaps, though as by fire ? You have all answered me. Pass through our churches, and tell me where is the venerated man of God, who is to the world around him a walking conscience, and carries heaven on his brow, in whose life there have not been some dark seasons of marked, and guilty, and hurtful relapse? Let me say, I do not believe that the Christian does make uniform progress in holiness, but does sometimes becomes stationary, and sometimes retrograde in the heavenly road.
VI. Are we then to believe, that while every Christian in heaven will be perfect, there will still be a difference in their Christian stature, and their amount of enjoyment proportioned to their industry in acquiring holiness in the present life? On this point there can be very little doubt.. There will be a difference in heaven among redeemed spirits, as one star differeth from another star in glory. Doubtless God will have employment for them all in his kingdom. As in a building there is a variety of materials, places to fill requiring more and less strength, but all necessary; so in that mystic temple whose topstone is to be laid in heaven with shouting, Grace, grace unto it, there may be required, to give it its greatest strength and beauty, souls of very different capacities.
VII. It is then obvious that we are ourselves selecting the position we shall occupy in heaven, if any. On our industry will depend our growth ; and on our growth our station in the kingdom of the Redeemer. And how can men be indifferent what is the position they shall hold among the redeemed in heaven! Increasing holiness bears its present fruits, gives its immediate as well as its future
rewards. In what other enterprise, then, shall we be so ambitious to succeed as in this? If there is any one thing surprising above all others, it is that believers n Christ should be slow to put on his image. The Psalmist would never be satisfied till he awaked from death in the likeness of his Redeemer. There is surely no joy like that which is begotten by a holy temper :hence, how can one who has tasted this joy, find any other pleasures, which, for a single hour, can become its substitute? Let me close by presenting a few motives to engaging with ardour in this heavenly enterprise.
1. I have hinted that we shall be happy in proportion as we are holy. We are mistaken in supposing that any particular circumstances are requisite to render us happy. There is but one thing requisite, likeness to Jesus Christ. And this is a happiness within the reach of us all, in proportion as we are willing to exercise his temper, and copy his example, and put on his image. Hence that rich and precious intimation, "Christ in you the hope of glory."
2. We shall be useful, other things being equal, in proportion as we are holy. No good man can be satisfied who feels himself to be living to no purpose. Find me the Christian who is never happy, and, sure as life, he is never useful. He is a cumberer of the ground, and can never reflect on the day that has gone by with pleasure. The man who is not aiming to bless his generation may dig after comforts, but he can never find them. He may read all the promises over, day by day, but there will not be found a word of consolation for him. He might derive more from some act of real Christian benevolence, than he does from a whole Bible full of consolations: and to be holy is the way to be useful. To follow Christ has an eloquence in it that no exhortation, nor argument can hold out. “Be
followers of me, as dear children.“ 3. There is dignity and character in being holy, that nothing else can produce. What man is great, like him who walks in the consciousness of exercising the same affections that Christ does ? In what matter should not men feel indifferent, rather than be willing to be losers in this mighty concern? How can it seem a small thing, whether we put on, or not, the character that glows in the view of heaven ? the character that he wears who receives the homage of all the redeemed, and is adored by cherubim and seraphim? How comparitively trifling a matter is it, that we are honourable in the estimation of those who judge according to the outward appearance. The apostle could say to his enemies, It is a small thing that I should be judged of you, or of man's judgment. How noble his character, while he thus regarded supremely the inward adornings of holiness? Would we then aim at character—character that will stand the test when worlds are burned up-let us press on after
THE MEANS OF SANCTIFICATION.
John xvii 17.
The grand purpose for which 'God gave to men a revelation of his will, was, that the truth thus revealed might be the medium of their sanctification. It is hence spoken of as the sword of the Spirit, the Sanctifier. If it be asked, Why God does not make men holy without the use of truth, we answer, that he would not thus treat them as moral agents. There must be in that case a mere act of his sovereignty, and man become virtuous. without design. Indeed, it seems to me to be keeping within the record to say, that men cannot be saved without a knowledge of divine truth, in consistency with the nature God has given them, and the heaven 'he has provided for holy beings. The very nature of holiness: implies that men have felt the force of truth, and yielded voluntarily to its influence. To repent implies, that we see the truths, that the law is good, and that we have broken it, while we were under the most sacred obligations to obey it. And faith implies, that we feel distinctly the truths, that we are lost, that Christ is able and willing to save, and has warranted us to make application to him. Hence men cannot be forcibly made to repent and believe, not acting themselves, voluntarily, in view of truth, without an infringement of their agency. Or, rather, such faith and repentance, if we could suppose its existence, would not be their own act, and could not, on the Gospel plan,, avail them to salvation. Let
us then inquire, how and why divine truth is used in rendering men holy.
1. It presents to view the objects of holy affection. To love God is a holy affection. But God cannot be loved, till men are acquainted with his character. In his word, his character is all presented. Had we no Bible, we might see his mighty power and Godhead in the works of creation ; but only in the oracles of God do we see his whole character. There every attribute is written, and the full Deity made known. Now, if we have that temper to which goodness is lovely, we shall not fail to love him.
The complete character of the Lord Jesus Christ is, in the same book of God, revealed for our faith. We can see for ourselves, whether he has those attributes we can love, and is such a Saviour as we can trust in. There could be no faith in him without this delineation of his character.
The Christian character, also, is presented in the Bible, as the object of our affectionate regard. We there learn the divine law, and have opportunity to approve: and the same may be said in reference to every holy object on which God requires us to place our esteem,
And we learn, too, in the same book, the objects we are required to hate; for haliness consists in feeling disgust towards the objects of unrighteousness, as well as complacency in righteousness. There we learn the temper of our hearts, and all the moral wrong in ourselves that we are to loathe and repent of.
of. Thus a primary use of truth in our sanctification is to present us with the character of the objects toward which we are to exercise holy affections, the objects we are required to love, and the objects we are required to hate.