« AnteriorContinua »
tification, that the person, who is the subject of it, should be completely freed from the condemnation of sin. His sins shall not be matter of punishment at the great day. Besides this, God will graciously bestow, on every such person, an everlasting reward. In fine, we can fully subscribe to the spirit and meaning of the venerable assembly of divines, that "justification is an act of God's free grace, wherein he pardoneth all our sins." The consequence of which pardon must be, that we receive no punishment, and, of course, cannot be treated as guilty; but shall be accepted, i. e. treated, as if righteous in his sight; and thro' free mercy, all righteous persons will be rewarded.
ON CHRISTIAN ZEAL.
such a profession, if, on these all interesting subjects, our souls are habitually languid and indiffer ent? if the strength and fervour of our affections are prostituted to objects infinitely inferior; to the pursuits of the world; to the sordid gratifications of sense and sin? Is not the God whom we profess to serve, the source, the sum, and the perfection of all moral beauty and excellence ? Let our thoughts and our imaginations take their widest range, and soar their highest flight, in order to select and combine whatever is calculated to excite our best and strongest affections; and will not a single ray of the character of JEHOVAH infinitely surpass, and totally eclipse the whole? Is such a Being as this to be treated with coldness and indifference? Or ought our whole souls to be absorbed in the contemplation, love and praise of his transcendent ex
(Continued from p. 12, & concluded.) cellencies? But let us consider,
We have already offered some thoughts on the nature and distinguishing properties of Christian zeal, viewed both in a personal and more general sense. A few remarks will now be added, tending to illustrate its importance and obligations.
for a moment, a subject still
First. We must be zealous
See MACLAURIN'S Sermon on
ill-deserving. What returns then are due from a creature thus un. worthy, and thus favoured, lan. guage must be inadequate to ex. press; nor can the most exalted mind fully conceive, But sure ly they must be something far removed from indifference and apathy. If then our hearts are habitually cold to the Saviour; if they take little interest in those vast and momentous objects, for which he appeared in flesh, and toiled, and died, our guilt must be great indeed. And where, in this case, is our relig. ion? It is a dream; a nonentity. We may have a name to live; but in reality, we are dead. We may have the form of godliness; but the power, the animating soul, is wanting, We may have confident hopes of peace and blessedness hereafter; but like the hopes of the hypocrite, they will perish. We may be in high esteem with fallible men, and the world may resound with the fame of our piety; but in the eye of Heaven, we are nothing.
Again the difficulties of religion demand our zeal. What ever superficial thinkers, and those unacquainted with their own hearts may imagine, it is no common nor easy thing to be a Christian. He who best knows what is in man, and what Christianity means, has told us that the very entrance of this religion is strait; and has therefore bid us strive or agonize, if we would not miss of it. But not only is there a strait gate, but a narrow way: nor have the difficulties ceased when we have once enter ed. Indeed, they have but commenced. We have a perplexing, toilsome journey before us; a journey which cannot be
accomplished, but with much application and engagedness of mind, and many a painful, stren uous exertion, Or to vary the metaphor, we have engaged, on entering the Christian life, in a warfare. Our enemies are numerous, subtle, malignant, powerful and persevering. Some of them are on earth, and others in hell. And alas! we have traitors in our own bosoms, who are but too ready to espouse their inter ests, and betray us into their hands. Now in what manner may we rationally hope to terminate such a warfare as this, with success and honour? Can it be done with folded arms? Can it be done in the indulgence of indolence and ease? No, certainly. This is not to be soldiers. It is impossible that heaven can ever be obtained in this way. Every power and faculty within us must be summoned to the conflict. We must be engaged, and in earnest, we must be active and diligent, we must be all fervour and animation; or we shall lose the victory. This is not said to cherish a vain confidence in human endeavours. They are nothing, but as the grace of God excites and crowns them. And if we are the real possessors of this grace, it will infallibly influ ence us to all these endeavours: Nor can we ever lay hold on eternal life, unless we thus strenuously fight the good fight of faith.
Farther, to excite our zeal, let us consider a moment how engaged and active men are in pursuits infinitely inferior to those of religion. The world around us is a scene of anxiety and hurry, of labour and contrivance, of deep-laid schemes and strenuous pursuits. Most men are full of
activity, solicitude and zeal. And to what point does all this tend? To the acquisition of objects, which perish in the using, and to which, in a very few years at most, they will be as indifferent as the earth on which they tread. Shall these phantoms of wealth and pleasure be pursued with such avidity, be grasped with such ardour; and shall religion, that pearl of price, that glorious and eternal reality, be treated with comparative listlessness and indifference? Shall those, who profess to be engaged in the service of the God of heaven, be the only torpid and inactive persons in the world? Shall those alone be careless and cold-hearted, who hope they have been redeemed by the blood of the benevolent Jesus? Shall the interests of an immortal soul, destined to happiness or misery supreme, be the only object which excites little concern? Shall those, who claim to be the only thorough believers of the word of God, set the example to the world, of practically treating heaven and hell as mere chimeras and delusions? How astonishing, how lamentable must this be!
Farther, let Christians be excited' to zeal by all the regard they have for the honour of God, and the good of their fel
Would they wish all around them to know that they serve a generous Master, and that the service carries its own reward in its bosom? Then let them be all animation and diligence in their work. Would they wish to let a careless world see what religion is; how real, how lovely, how sublime, how happy? Then let them live it with spirit and consistency. No
argument like this, to convince sinners of its incalculable worth, and bring them to a stand in their thoughtless career. They can resist the evidence of the ear; they can harden themselves against sermons, prayers and counsels; but what is visible carries its own demonstration with it. The example of a consistent and fervent Christian carries with it a kind of irresistible persuasion. Would we wish to see a reformation in the world around us? A reformation must begin with the children of God; and much have they to reform. O Christians! you have too of ten and too long wounded the cause of your blessed Master by your coldness, sloth and inconsistency. Is it not time that you should begin to lament, with tenderness and humility, the pernicious effects of such a spirit and conduct; and earnestly endeavour to remove them, by exhibiting something which all must see to be the reverse?
Finally, consider the glorious rewards which await the sincere followers of Jesus. Raise your eyes above this earthly scene, to the celestial mansions. Behold there an innumerable company of angels, and of saints now glorified, but once partakers in the same depravity; in the same toils, difficulties and temptations with which you are now beset. Behold Abel, Enoch, and Noah; Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. Behold the faithful prophets of Jehovah, and the holy apostles of our divine Redeemer. All their pious labours are crowned. All their toils and sufferings are forgotten and lost in the full and beatific vision of divine glory. Yet they forget not their fellow
saints on earth. See this glorious cloud of witnesses, bending from their celestial heights, to watch, to stimulate and encourage our progress heavenward. Do they not seem to assure us that the conflict will soon be past, and the victory won; and that all the toils and tribulations of the present scene are not worthy to be compared with the glory, which shall be revealed? Shall not such contemplations fire our cold hearts, and revive our dying resolutions? Shall we not blush to indulge the hope of heaven hereafter, and yet live here like the children of this world? Let us chide our sluggish spirits, that they are so backward to seize a celestial prize, and wear an immortal crown. Let us mourn the months and years we have lost; the sloth and negligence we have so long indulged. And let the thought constrain us to the greatest activity and diligence in future. Let us cherish a noble ambition to walk worthily our high profession and hopes. May God himself inspire our hearts with every holy resolution! May the Giver of all good impart to our minds that sacred flame of love and zeal, which his own Spirit alone can enkindle, and which shall never be extinguished!
INQUIRY AS TO THE MEANING OF MATT. XXI. 22.
And all things whatsoever ye shall ask in prayer, believing, ye shall receive.*
CONCERNING the faith here mentioned, there are two opin
The parallel place in Mark iş ch. xi. 23, 24.
ions. The one is, that all believers possess it, and receive the fulfilment of the promise here made. When those, who hold this opinion, are asked how it can be said, that pious prayers are always answered, they reply; that pious prayers are offered with submission: certain blessings are prayed for, with this reserve, If they can be conferred consistently with God's perfect designs. When the blessing prayed for can be granted consistently with divine wisdom, it always is therefore every pious prayer is answered.
Whatever truth there may be in these remarks, it is not that truth, which our Saviour meant to convey in the place under consideration. Luke has recorded his words thus; Whosoever shall say to this mountain, Be thou removed, and be thou cast into the sea; and shall not doubt in his heart, but shall believe, that those things, which he saith, shall come to pass : he shall have whatsoever he saith. Here it is expressly said, that the thing asked, though very extraordinary, shall be granted.
The language is such, as we cannot suppose, would have been used, if the meaning had been any thing less. The faith here required must, it is conceived, be a miraculous faith; i. e. a faith, which enables its possessor to work miracles. It is the faith which Peter had, when he said to the cripple at the beautiful gate ; “ In the name of Jesus of Nazareth, rise up and
The character of Peter and the credit of Christianity depended on the coincidence of the event with these words: he would not, therefore, have utter, ed them without full assurance
that the event would follow. To have uttered them on any other ground than this, that God would give soundness to the cripple if he thought fit, would by no, means have corresponded with apostolic prudence. The same The same apostle, on another occasion, said, "Eneas, Jesus Christ maketh thee whole." Surely there could be no doubt, in his mind, that the cure would take place.
In the passage quoted, the disciples are required to believe, that the thing requested shall be received. Faith must have some foundation. Would Christ require his apostles to believe any proposition without good reasons for believing it? Here a difficulty of no inconsiderable magnitude presents itself. The apostles could not, at all times, heal the sick. Could Paul have healed Trophimus, the latter had not been left sick at Miletum. From the perfections of God, they well knew, that he would interpose whenever the occasion should require. But how could they know when the occasion did require? How could they know, beforehand, that Trophimus was not to be cured by a miracle, and that Eneas the cripple were?
The writer would, with diffidence, offer a conjecture on this subject.
That God could give to the apostles some mark, whereby they might dintinguish those occasions, on which he would interpose by a miracle, is not to be questioned. He might, for instance, fix on some particular sensation, which should infallibly indicate, that he was about to communicate to them the power of working a miracle. As a bod
ily sensation might serve for such a mark, so likewise might a particular known state of the mind. When this was perceiv ed, an apostle might know, that he should receive whatever he should ask, and that a miraculous effect would attend his speaking. His faith would, in this case, have a foundation. It would rest on divine truth. God had assured him, that when such a sensation, or such a mark existed, divine power would be ready to operate. He perceives this mark, and therefore must conclude, if he believe God, that divine power is ready to be executed. A person, who in these circumstances, prayed, that a cripple might be healed, might have the best ground for believing, that he should receive that for which he prayed. When Peter said, Eneas, Jesus Christ maketh thee whole, he ventured his apostolic reputation not on precarious conjecture, but on the veracity of Almighty God.
MANY of your readers are well acquainted with the zealous and indefatigable labours of Mr. WILBERFORCE, a member of the English House of Commons, to procure an abolition of the slave trade. In a debate on that subject, just before the late vote of abolition was carried, Sir Vicary Gibbs, the Solicitor General, paid a most dignified and eloquent compliment to that most worthy and benevolent man. Presuming that it will give pleasure to readers in general, and at the same time show in what high estimation this eminent Christian patriot is held by that honourable