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hitherto taught and written ? and that if he did not he should be proceeded against with the utinost severity ; he made this intrepid answer: “Since your Imperial Majesty, and the illustrious Electors and princes who are here present require a plain, direct, and explicit answer to this question, I will give one at which no manner of offence can be taken ; and it is this : Unless I am convinced of being in an error by testimonies drawn from the holy scriptures, or by clear and evident proofs, I neither can, nor will, revoke any thing I have said or written; it being neither safe nor advisable to act contrary to my conscience. By this declaration I abide ; and God be my helper! Amen." Since therefore we profess the doctrine of Christ as reformed from the errors and superstition of Popery, let us pray to God that he will give us the spirit of confidence and faith ; so that if we should be required to make a public confession of the truth, we may shew an undaunted resolution and ingenuous frankness, according to the example of Christ and his apostles, and the first reformers of christianity.
4. Barely to acknowledge the truth is not sufficient to render us true christians; but it must have a salutary effect on our lives and conversation.
Hence our blessed Saviour does not say, he that merely acknowledges the truth is my subject and disciple ; but every one that is of the truth, i.e. to whom truth, candour, and probity are become, as it were, habitual, and influence all his thoughts, words, and actions, and heareth my voice, or obeys me as his Sovereign. Let this be particularly observed by men of genius and learning, who make profession of the knowledge of truth. If their understanding only is busied amidst a croud of abstracted ideas, types, and representations, which even relate to the truths of religion, they do not yet
properly belong to the kingdom of Jesus Christ. But when they act conformably to this truth, which derives its beginning from a knowledge of our natural blindness and
imbecility ; then the truth shall niake them free, • Ye shall know the truth, saith Christ, and the truth shall make you free,' (John viii. 32.) free from selflove, pride, ambition, and haughtiness; free from the tyranny of carnal lusts, and all criminal desires. He that has not attained to this glorious freedom, notwithstanding all his penetration, and supposed merits in the service of truth, will not have his portion with the true subjects of Jesus Christ.
5. Our blessed Lord acknowledges none for his subjects, but those who hear his voice.'
Hence Jesus says in the close of his confession, * Every one that is of the truth,' and is consequently my true disciple and subject, 'heareth my voice.' Now he that can say I hear the voice of Jesus Christ, may be apt to conclude, that he is therefore of the truth, and one of the true subjects of Christ. Such a one will perhaps say, “If this is all that is required in a true subject of Christ, I need not question but I am one of them; for I have heard the voice of Jesus Christ, as it sounds in the gospel, time after time, without number.” Alas! vain man, it is not the question, whether the voice of Christ has outwardly reached the organs of hearing, and by the ears made its way to thy understanding. If that were sufficient
. to make thee a subject of Christ, the carnal Jews, who in the days of his incarnation heard his voice numberless times, would have been his true subjects; nevertheless, our blessed Saviour says unto them, • Ye therefore hear not my words, because ye are not of God. Ye are of your father the devil, &c.' (John viii. 44, 47.) Upon this supposition, Pilate also would have been of the truth; for he too heard our Saviour's voice, talking with him in the hall of Judgment. Nay, what is still more, if this sufficed, the devil himself may be said “to be of the truth ;' for he heard the voice of Christ when he tempted him in the wilderness, and likewise in those who were possessed; yet Christ witnesseth of him, that he
abode not in the truth because there is no truth in him, (John 44.)
Hence it appears, that something more is required to render a man a true subject of Christ, than to hear his voice or his word. For this end, there must be an inward and universal obedience of the heart, a serious attention and sincere obedience to all his commands, and a lively faith in all his promises, so as to place so great a value on the invisible rewards expected from them, and so to be firmly convinced of the certainty of them, as to be always ready to renounce and part with all temporal enjoyments for his sake.
Dost thou therefore boast, that thou hast heard the voice of Jesus Christ ? tell me what happy effect it has on thy soul. Or thinkest thou that the voice of the Son of God, by which the heavens and the earth were made, is a dead and ineffectual sound, suffering men to stagnate in their carnal security? By no means; the voice of Christ is said to be like the sound of many waters,? (Rev. i. 15.) Has the sound of it therefore awakened thee from the sleep of security? The Psalmist says, (Psa. xxix. 5, 3, 9.). The voice of the Lord breaketh thie cedars; the voice of the Lord divideth the flames of fire; the voice of the Lord shaketh the wilderness; the voice of the Lord discovereth the forests. Has that glorious voice shaken and fertilized thy barren heart? Has it broker the towering cedars of thy carnal imagination ? Has it torn up the ill habits so deeply rooted in thee? These effects are not like the fleeting images of a dream, but leave a lasting and indelible impression on the heart during the whole course of a man's life. Lock on others who have heard the voice of Christ, and see what a change it has wrought in them! Matthew, the publican, heard his voice, saying,
, 'Follow me!' and immediately he left all, and followed Christ; Simon and Andrew heard his voice; and they forsook all, and followed him. The young
man who died at Nain, heard his voice, raised hims self up, and revived. Lazarus heard his voice, was spoke into life, and came forth from his grave. The man amicted with the palsy heard his voice, and rose and took up the bed on which he before had been laid. Saul heard his voice ; and of a persecutor and destroyer of his followers, became a champion for the truth of the gospel. See! what happy effects the voice of Jesus Christ had on these remarkable
persons. Nay, it is said in St. John, (chap. v. 25.) * The hour is coming, and now is, when the dead shall hcar the voice of the Son of God, and they that hear shall live.' And dost thou, O man, live the life that is of God? or art thou still dead in trespasses and sins, and pleadest thine inability and human weakness, when called upon to follow Christ, to cru. cify the flesh, and other duties that the gospel requires ? Examine thyself well, how it fares with thy soul in this point ! It is no inconsiderable fault for a man to stop his ears, and shut up his heart against the voice of Christ ; for whoever will refuse to hear him, the same also he will not hear, nor answer when they call upon him in their distress, (Prov. i. 24, &c.) Alas! whither can we betake ourselves when we lie on the bed of death? What can we then implore but mercy! mercy! and who will then hear these our cries, but he whom the heavenly Father has enjoined us to hear: “This is my beloved Son, him shall ye hear.' Therefore, if thou hast not in thy life obediently heard his voice, and conformed to it, What dependance canst thou have, that he will hear thy faint and broken accents at the approach of death? and how dreadful will be thy case if He, who alone has power to save and to condemn, should likewise turn his ears from thy cries! O let us hear his voice to-day, this instant ; while we hear his voice, let us not harden our hearts. Let us turn our ears from the delusive voice of satan and the world, calling us to indulge in the lusts of the flesh, the lust of the eye;
the pride of life, and other vices. It is enough that we have spent the past years of our life in such ill
Let us now with tears and prayers approach the blessed Jesus, acknowledging, confessing, and bewailing our former disobedience. Let us in. treat him to give us an attentive ear, and an obedient heart. Let us sincerely believe in the rewards of his promising voice; let us obey the precepts of his commanding voice; so that one day it may be our happiness to hear his affectionate voice, saying,
Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom, prepared for you from the foundation of the world.'
O FAITHFUL Saviour, whose merits are infinite, thanks be to thee for the good confession of thy kingdom, which thou madest before Pilate! Praised be thy name for the instructions thou hast given us, that we may rightly understand the nature of that kingdom! Thou seest, O Lord, what gross conceptions and carnal ideas we are apt to entertain of thy spiritual kingdom, be pleased therefore to inspire us with a salutary knowledge of thy kingly office, and to impart to us that heavenly temper and disposition which is the distinguishing badge of thy true subjects. Make us, we beseech thee, truly attentive to thy voice, and real lovers of thy truth; so that by walking in the truth, and abhorring all false ways, and all the delusions of satan, we may be more and more convinced that we are thy subjects, and that consequently we may be joini-heirs of thy glorious kingdom. And as we here suffer with thee, and combat for thy truth by the confession of thy religion, grant that we may also eternally reign with thee, and sit on thrones, as thoi hast overcome, and art exalted to the throne of thy Father. Amen.