Imatges de pÓgina
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blood ;” and “ was made sin for us that we might be made the righteousness of God in Him.”—This is the remedy provided.

But how is it to be used and applied ? It is to be received with humble faith, and relied upon with a believing hope. Christ is “ set forth as a propitiation through faith, in his blood.” And his “Righteousness is unto all and upon all them that believe.We are expressly told that it is faith which justifies ;” and that “whoever believeth shall obtain remission of sins." But what then is this faith? Is it merely a fancy in the brain; a notion in the head; a persuasion in the mind; an assent of the understanding ? No. It is a grace, a principle in the heart, deeply fixed and abiding there. It is “ with the heart that man believeth unto righteous

ness.

The persons who really believe in Christ, are those, who feeling their guilt and misery as sinners, hear with joy of the atonement which Christ has made for sin on the cross, and with the heart put their whole trust for pardon and acceptance in his merits, mercies, and promises. These persons are reconciled to God. In the use of the remedy provided, their deadly wound is healed. They have peace with God through Jesus Christ : for their faith in Christ unitng them to Him, secures to them a personal interest in every thing which He has done and purchased for sinners. See then the folly and vanity of relying on any outward distinctions, on any name, any ceremony, or any rite. For none of these can do the office of faith. None of these can unite us to Christ, or reconcile us to God. Baptism is, indeed, the seal of the righteousness of faith.

But it cannot supply the place of faith. It confirms to the true believer the promises of God in Christ: but it cannot give any interest in these promises to him who believes not. What then can baptism do without faith towards making our peace with God? It can do nothing. Our Church has expressly told us, that one of the requisites in those who come to be baptized, is “Faith whereby they receive the promises of God.” Be. ware then how you trust in this seal of the covenant; and undervalue and neglect that precious Faith, without which it is impossible that you can be saved, without which you must continue separated from Christ, and consequently at enmity with the blessed God for ever and ever.

2. The Gospel opens a way for our being made holy and fit for Heaven. This object it effects through the influence and agency of the Holy Spirit, who, as the Catechism again teaches us, “ sanctifies all the elect

"

people of God.

That Faith, indeed, of which we have been speaking, and which is in fact the seed of all holiness in the heart, is itself the gift and the operation of the Holy Ghost. But He does not merely. sow the seed. He brings also the fruit to perfection. Having convinced the soul of sin, and led it to a simple trust on Jesus Christ for pardon, He goes on to purify and change it. Having wrought in it that “ Repentance whereby we forsake sin," He goes on to deliver it more and more from the power of corruption, and to fill it with the fruits of righteousness. To this end He puts into the heart good thoughts and holy desires ; stirs ир in it devout affections and pious resolutions; teaches and enables it to resist the devil, to renounce the world, to withstand temptation, to crucify the flesh; and in the meantime cheers and strengthens it by divine consolations and heavenly supports. Thus is the work of sanctification advanced. The grace of the Holy Spirit is the remedy provided for the cure of our natural corruption, and for bringing the soul into that state of spiritual health and soundness, which forms its fitness for the enjoyment of heavenly happiness.

But how is this remedy to be applied and used ? By yielding the heart to the blessed influences of the Holy Spirit ; by

seeking his help in diligent and earnest prayer, by giving ourselves up to his guidance and direction, obeying his godly motions, and complying with the suggestions which He puts into our hearts; by using the grace which He gives to us in struggling against the devil, the world, and the flesh, and thus in His strength getting victory over our corruptions, and cleansing ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit. See then again the folly and vanity of trusting to any outward distinction. Nothing but a real inward change of heart, a work of grace on the soul, producing in us spiritual affections and a holy life, can make us fit for Heaven. Baptism is, indeed, the sign of this inward change; but it cannot supply the place of it. The washing with water represents the washing by the Holy Ghost; but it is not the same thing. Far then from trusting only to the sign, seek after the thing signified. Seek after that renewal and sanctification of the heart, which alone will form your meetness for Heaven. Learn from the statement here given, the nature of true religion. It is an inward thing. It is a compound of faith and holiness; the work and inspiration of Divine Grace. Faith is the seed, the root, the principle. Holiness is the branch, the fruit, the blessed effects produced by

it. This is true Christianity. It is fixed in the heart, and works and operates in the life. It leads those, who partake of its blessed influence, to be pious and devout; to be meek, humble, and patient; to deny themselves; to take up their cross daily ; to overcome the world, and to have their conversation in Heaven. Now of such Christi, anity there is one particular stated in the text, which we shall do well to notice. “ Its praise is not of men, but of God.” True religion, such as it has been here described, has never been a favourite with the world. Men in their natural state, have never liked, approved, or commended it. How, indeed, is it possible that they should ? For it opposes them at every step; it crosses them at every turn. It condemns their views, their principles, and their practices. When set before them in description, or presented to their eyes in the holy lives of its professors, they cannot but see and feel how totally it differs from that which they call Religion, and which, consisting in forms, notions, and ordinances, allows them to indulge the flesh, to walk after the course of this world, and to serve Mammon more than God. True Religion, therefore, has not, and cannot have their praise. In fact they hate it, and show their hatred by speaking evil of it. They hold it up as the object of scorn and ridicule.

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