Imatges de pÓgina

laying out men's wealth for the use of the poor; but of lowliness of mind, in condescending to a brotherly communion in love, with the meanest of them. Let, therefore, the greatest know, that there is no duty of spiritual love that unbecomes them: and if their state and condition keep them from that communion of love, which is required of all believers, it is their snare and temptation. If they converse not with the lowest of them, as they have occasion; if they visit them not, when it is requisite; if they bear them not in their hearts and minds, as their especial church relation requires; they sin against the law of this holy love.'*-To what numbers, alas, in the churches of Christ, who profess the highest regard to the gospel of divine love, and to be followers of the Lamb, will that searching inerrogatory apply, in this and many other cases, What do ye more than others ?

The genuine gospel is a lively representation of the love which our Lord has to divine law, and of his profound- veneration for the rights of eternal ustice. It presents the adorable Jesus to view, not only as loving and saving sinners, but as having such a veneration for divine authority, and for the claims of penal justice, that,-rather than any reflection should fall on the law, as if its requisitions were too high for humanity to perform, or the sanction enforcing them too severe for sinners to suffer,--he himself, in our nature, would obey its precepts and sustain its curse. Thus the gospel, though rich with reigning grace, is bright with eternal holiness; and though it proclaim a full, free,

* Dr. Owen's Exposition of the Epistle to the Hebrews, Vol. iii. P. 107, 108. Folio ed.

and everlasting pardon, that is equal to the wants of the vilest, criminal; yet, in its nature, and in all its genuine tendencies, it is completely harmonious with the laws of equity. For no reformation of life, nor any melioration of beart, can be justly characteristic of a real Christian ; except those grand requisitions of divine law, Thou shalt love God supremely-Whatever ye would that men should do to you, do ye the same to thembe incorporated with the affections; or, in the language of Scripture, written upon the heart.*

If, then, the unadulterated gospel exhibit the incarnate Son of God, as expressing, in the strongest and most unequivocal manner, his love to divine law, to rectitude, and to order; our behaviour cannot be agreeable to it, except in proportion as we pay a practical regard to the laws of our Maker, and revere his authority wherever we see it. Without a steady adherence to veracity, fidelity, and equity, run through our intercourse one with another, we shall counteract the natural tendency of evangelical doctrine, and not adorn, but disgrace, the gospel of God our Saviour. --While, therefore, we profess ourselves the disciples of Jesus Christ, that luminous representation which the glad tidings give of his affection for divine precepts, and of his deep regard for divine authority in all its forms, ought ever to operate as a powerful motive to the exercise of truth, fidelity, and equity, in the whole course of our behaviour.

The gospel of Christ may be considered as the grand mean of glorifying God in our sinful world, and as intended for that highest of all purposes.

It * Jer, xxxi. 33.

is through the medium of evangelical truth, that any sinner beholds the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ, and is transformed into the same image. It is by the gospel we learn the true character of God, as unchangeably just, yet supremely merciful, or as Jehovah himself speaks, The just God and the Saviour. Hence it is emphatically called, The gospel of the glory of the happy God.*

Now, as the gospel reveals the perfections and character of the Most High ; as, in the light of this divine truth, his perfections and character appear supremely amiable and supremely venerable; our behaviour cannot be suitable to it, except so far as the holy properties of his infinite nature are practically acknowledged by becoming the leading motives of our conduct. When, for instance, our views of his boundless benignity, under the kindred notions of mercy, grace, and love, excite in our hearts habitual gratitude for his benefits, joy in his favour, and filial confidence in his care-When his unfathomable wisdom, his universal supremacy, and his absolute dominion, are so considered as to promote reverential submission to his authority, whether it appear in his laws, or in his ProvidenceWhen his omnipresence and omniscience are so regarded, as to produce habitual watchfulness over our thoughts, our volitions, and our internal character-When his eternal rectitude, his immaculate purity, and his penal justice, operate in promoting a detestation of sin under all its various appearances, and a sincere desire of holiness in all its beautiful forms— When his veracity, fidelity, and immutability; excite a devout attention to his threat* 1 Tim. i. 11. So it reads, when literally translated.


enings, his promises, and his merciful engagements, as most certain to be accomplished in due seasonAnd, when his infinite excellence and all-sufficiency attract our hearts to centre in him as the chief good; -then are the attributes and character of God, as revealed in the gospel, glorified by us; and then, through the power of the Holy Spirit, is its gracious design answered upon us.—Once more:

As the gospel of Christ originated in heaven, reveals the way to heaven, is the principal mean of preparing us for heaven, and will not receive the consummation of its design short of heaven, our conversation cannot be agreeable to it, except in proportion as we are heavenly minded. For any person to profess evangelical truth, and zealously to maintain the doctrine of sovereign grace, who is habitually careless whether the prevailing dispositions of his heart be suited to the heavenly state; is to act inconsistently, and to deceive himself. To what end avow the most important religious truths, if not with reference to practical purposes and a future state-with reference to heaven, and a preparation for it? But how can those persons be considered as professing the gospel with such views, who are not seriously concerned about heavenly mindedness? Or with what propriety does any one pretend to hope for heaven as his final residence, who is not habitually aiming at it? Or how can there be a prevailing desire of that felicity, without frequently thinking of it? To be carnally minded is death: but to be spiritually minded is life and

peace. - How great, alas, the absurdity which attends the conduct of multitudes; Wishing for happiness in a future state, is considered and represented by them as hoping for heaven; even while they treat that sublime blessedness as unworthy of much regard—as unworthy of solicitous care and habitual thought. Their treasure is in this world: their hearts are upon the objects of sense: their circumspection and self-denial, their hopes and fears, their anxieties and labours, their joys and sorrows, are all employed about perishing things. Yet they presume on the safety of their state, and when obliged to leave their dearest enjoyments, upon heaven as the final issue of their pursuits. But, in order to suit the prevailing disposition of such hearts, what sort of heaven must it be? Not a state of peculiar nearness to God, of communion with him, and of supreme delight in him-not a state of complete holiness, of consummate subjection to God's dominion, and of transcendent pleasure in the performance of his will: rather a Pagan elysium, or a Mohammedan paradise. Happiness, even in the presence of God, would be impossible to a creature who did not love him. To such professors of the gospel, that saying is perfectly applicable, Ye must be born again. Our treasure must be in heaven, and our affections on things above, if we mean either to live comfortably here, or to be happy hereafter.

Remarkable are those words, God forbid that I should glory, save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ; by whom the world is crucified to me, and I unto the world. The death of Christ on a cross, exhibited the most glorious, important, and engaging objects to the view of Paul. He considered that ignominious death, as the foundation of his hope,

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