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great plainness of speech ; and not as Moses, who put a veil over his face,"—that dispensation being one of types and symbols. Under the ministration of the Spirit, the veil is taken away, and there is liberty of access to God, not only to the attainment of his favour, but to discover the transforming views of his glory, till we be changed into the same image. Having “received mercy,” and being intrusted with such a ministry to discharge, “we faint not” at discouragements or opposition; “but have renounced the hidden things of dishonesty, not walking in craftiness, nor handling the word of God deceitfully, but by manifestation of the truth commending ourselves to every man's conscience in the sight of God.” Thus the Apostle of the Gentiles resolved and acted. Let all who bear the sacred office carefully copy his example. Let them, by diligent study and importunate prayer, cultivate those exalted and solemn views of their work, which show the connexion that exists between the sufferings of the Son of God, and the eternal happiness or misery of their hearers. Nothing less will then satisfy them, than to see the people made partakers of righteousness, and of the Holy Spirit. All their application, learning, and eloquence will be made to bear upon this. They will endeavour to be skilled in the word of righteousness, and to be filled with the Holy Ghost, that they may succeed in persuading and directing sinners to be reconciled to God, as well as in building up the believer in his most holy faith. They will know nothing, and make nothing known among men, but “ Jesus Christ, and him crucified.” The more the preaching of the cross is decried by the lovers of pleasure, the rejectors of revelation, and the abettors of Romish errors and superstitions, they will be the more and more determined to glory in nothing but the cross; knowing that this is the only way by which they can save themselves or their hearers. Nor will their Master leave them to spend their strength for nought. Such ministrations have never been fruitless. To such men, and to such only, has the Saviour said, “ Lo, I am with you alway, even to the end of the world;" and to them also, in the midst of all their labours and sufferings for his name's sake, he still says, “Be thou faithful unto death, and I will give thee a crown of life."
2. If such be the duties of the Minister, it is easy to recognise that of the people. If the glory of the Gospel be so excelling, it is to place salvation more clearly and fully within the reach of all. Let every one, therefore, carefully search the Scriptures, that he may understand the nature and design of the Gospel; and let him take heed what he hears. If the Apostle Paul were now to visit some of the churches of Protestant Britain, how amazed would he be to find men, who claim to be his only true successors, instead of using great fidelity of language, in preaching righteousness through faith in the atoning blood, professedly holding this doctrine in reserve; bowing to, and looking mysteriously at, wooden crosses; teaching their hearers that they must expect salvation only in ordinances which are administered by
themselves exclusively; and that they must not anticipate pardon in this life, nor even when they pass into eternity; but must wait, they know not where, nor in what circumstances, (in purgatory, if they choose to believe it,) until the day of judgment, before they can ascertain whether heaven or hell is to be their final doom ! Would he not denounce such as deceivers of the people, and perverters of the Gospel of Christ ? Would he not declare such a ministry to be a revival of the ministration of condemnation and death? Would he not warn the people against such unscriptural dogmas, and boldly proclaim the righteousness of faith, and the promises of the Spirit in all his light, and life, and power, and liberty, and holiness, and love? And would he not earnestly exhort believers to “stand fast in the liberty wherewith Christ bath made them free, and not be again entangled in the yoke of bondage ?" All those who desire to build " on the foundation of the Apostles and Prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner-stone," must withdraw from these men; and
when affected by dangerous sickness, they are careful to employ a Physician in whose skill they can safely rely,—so let them seek until they find a faithful ministry, by which their souls may obtain health and cure.
Those who enjoy a faithful ministry must take heed how they hear. Much earnest warning is given in the Scripture against hearing in vain. This indicates the proneness of our nature to fall into this evil ; and one more awful cannot well be imagined. To receive from God himself the only remedy for the disease of our souls ; to admire the infinite wisdom and love displayed in providing it; to profess confidence in its virtue; to hear it with delight; and often to be almost persuaded, but still to delay, until it vanishes for ever from before us in death, and then to awake to an awful sense of our folly in all the agonies of the “death” that never dies! Can any delusion be compared to this? Yet such is the case with many. At an hour when they think not, the cry is given, “Behold, the Bridegroom cometh ; go ye out to meet him.” But their lamps are in darkness. The door is shut against them; and though they knock, saying, “ Lord, Lord, open to us!" the answer is, “ Depart from me; I know you not!" See to it, then, that ye be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving your own souls. With godly sorrow for sin, turn with your whole heart to God, in order to enjoy that righteousness which is by faith in Christ Jesus; and plead with him until you receive the Spirit of adoption, crying within you, “ Abba, Father.” This righteousness is “unto all, and upon all them that believe, whether Jew or Gentile ; for there is no difference :" and the Saviour assures us, that, “if we, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto our children, much more will our heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit unto them that ask him."
3. The abundant encouragement which this subject affords is obvious. Unto you, especially, is the word of this salvation sent. By its painful teaching, and disclosures of guilt, the law has proved to you a
schoolmaster, to bring you to Christ. You feel its condemning power ; you have the sentence of death in yourselves ; you renounce all created help or hope, and cry, “ Who shall deliver me from the body of this death ?” How cheering to know that Jesus stands ready to receive you from the hand of your severe instructer, and to give you righteousness and peace through faith in his blood! He unfolds to you the riches of his grace, and the glorious fulness of the Spirit's influences; declaring that he died to procure all these for you. If you be the chief of sinners, he bids you look to him as God the Saviour. Grieve him not, then, by unbelief. His blood cleanses from all sin, and his Spirit can soften and renew the hardest and the vilest heart. Nor does he deny his salvation to any. “ Him that cometh unto me I will in no wise cast out.” Even now he is ready to clothe you with his righteousness, and bless you with the Spirit of adoption. Venture yourselves, therefore, upon his mercy. Dare to believe for a present salvation. Or continue to cry, “ Lord, I believe ; help thou my unbelief !” until his Spirit inspire you to sing,
“ Jesus, thy blood and righteousness
With joy shall I lift up my head.” All those who have felt the saving power of the Gospel, in the gift of justifying righteousness, are taught the duty of aspiring after the full benefits of the great salvation. To be filled with the Spirit, and with the fruits of righteousness, is your happy privilege. Hunger and thirst for this, until from you rivers of living water flow, to make fruitful the souls of others. Thus shall you practically verify the excelling glory of the Gospel, and be changed from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord."
4. Lastly. It is the duty of all to spread this Gospel to the ends of the earth. This task the Saviour has assigned to his church : “Ye are the light of the world : let your light so shine, that others may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven. “Know that he which converteth a sinner from the error of his way, shall save a soul from death, and shall hide a multitude of sins.” This work is honourable ; no worldly pursuit can be compared with it; and yet the humblest follower of the Redeemer may win many souls to him. The conversion of an individual appears a noble display of mercy and power, when we contrast the spiritual darkness, death, and misery, the bondage to sin, and exposure to everlasting wrath, from whence he has been rescued, with the light, life, and joy, the liberty, and glorious hope of immortality, into which he is brought. But suppose a change like this accomplished in thousands; or extend your views beyond the walls of the sanctuary, and contemplate the population of the globe thus benefited in Christ, all nations calling him blessed, all mankind loving God with the whole heart, and their neighbour as themselves; and all rejoicing in the hope of eternal life! How devoutly is
such a consummation to be desired! And although nothing less than the power of God can effect it, he nevertheless calls his people to the high honour of bringing it to pass. He is ready to hasten this in answer to your prayers. He even solicits your fervent and importunate intercessions; saying, “ Ye that make mention of the Lord, keep not silence, and give him no rest, till he establish, and till he make Jerusalem a praise in the earth.” We may also rest assured, that he is disposed to render effectual all endeavours to check sin, to instruct the ignorant, and to bring the inquiring sinner to himself; for he is “not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance." And while it is the special duty of his Ministers to preach this Gospel to those who have it not, how can they do so, unless they be sent? Upon the members of the church, therefore, devolves the duty and honour of sending them. Much of this work remains to be done at home and abroad ; and how can the silver and the gold be more honourably or profitably employed, than in this glorious enterprise ? Under the former dispensation, the expense of frequent journeys to Jerusalem, the tithes, sacrifices, and other offerings which the ritual required, rendered religion a burdensome service ; and yet no part of the contributions appears to have been expended in bringing the other nations to the knowledge of God. With all the excelling glory of Gospel light, and Christian experience, is it not fitting that the church, in the present day, should present an equal proportion of its substance as a free-will offering to Him who gave himself for her ? There is reason to believe that this would furnish means for meeting all those pressing claims and urgent entreaties of the heathen world, which, for want of pecuniary aid, are now neglected or postponed. Notwithstanding the noble examples of a few, we fear that the wealthy part of the church is far surpassed, in the duty of giving, by the poor. Instead of wanton speculation with surplus capital, which has provoked God in many instances to punish with loss, and in some cases with painful embarrassment or ruin in their regular business, when will rich Christians learn, with Esau, to say, “ I have enough,” and devote all their future gains to God? What blessings, then, in these days of evangelical zeal, might they be the means of dispensing ! How might they spread the mercy of God far and wide! What friends might they thus make to themselves of the “mammon of unrighteousness !” In honouring God with their substance, how richly might he honour them in spiritual blessings! What inward satisfaction, from the testimony of a good conscience, might be theirs ! And how vast their reward in eternity! Let us give ourselves more unreservedly to God, that he may enrich us with the fulness of his righteousness; and, according to the talents and ability which he has imparted, let us be “steadfast and unmoveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord; forasmuch as we know that our labour is not in vain in the Lord.”
ON THE PERFECTION OF THE SPIRITUAL LIFE.
(To the Editor of the Wesleyan-Methodist Magazine.)
(Concluded from puge 113.)
GROWTH IN GRACE.
MANY controversies have arisen used! On the one hand, because from the poverty and ambiguity of the term “perfection” is, as an un. human language. Words have often deniable fact, applied, in Scripture, more than one signification; and to a certain state, the impossibility sometimes, in their concrete sense, of farther growth inay be asserted. are applied to objects as considered On the other, because the possiin one point of view, to which they bility of growth is evident, the apare altogether inapplicable consi- plicability of the term may be de. dered in another. Objects are sel. nied. And—referring now to a par. dom other than complicated; and ticular instance-for this very reathe same predicate may be affirmed son has the doctrine of Christian or denied concerning them, as the perfection, as held by the Wesleyan arrangement of the complication is Methodists, been denied. The very viewed under different forms.
foundation of the argument has This is remarkably the case with been,—“We cannot be said to be the term “perfection.” A child perfect, while we are capable of ad. may be perfect, considered vancement and growth. child; imperfect, considered as a But are there not two evident
A human being may be per facts in Scripture? First, The pos. fect, as such; imperfect, as com- sibility and obligation of continual pared with higher natures; espe progress. St. Peter says,—and he cially as compared with that nature plainly speaks to all true Christians, which is highest of all,—that of without limitation, —" But grow in God. Perfection may thus be con grace, and in the knowledge of our sidered as absolute, and as relatire. Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ," And it may be so considered, not And St. Paul speaks in the same geonly with regard to different be- neral manner, when he says, “ This ings, but also to the same being one thing I do, forgetting those viewed under different aspects. things which are behind, and reach.
In the religious use of the term, ing forth unto those things which it is particularly necessary to recol are before, I press toward the mark, lect these limitations. For want of for the prize of the high calling of doing this, the term may be applied God in Christ Jesus." It may be improperly, by being carried be assumed, as an established doctrine yond its just bounds. Or it may be of Scripture, that there is no state denied improperly, by affixing to it of grace in which farther progress is a sense which, in one reference, no longer possible. And the other makes it inapplicable; and then fact is, the repeated use of the term arguing against it when used by perfect,” in its application to ceranother person in a sense in which tain religious conditions. It is reit is applicable. In one of its signi- markable that, in immediate con. fications, for instance, it denotes that nexion with the passage already which is incapable of increase. How quoted, as illustrating the continual easily may two mistakes arise, from progress of the faithful believer, St. neglecting to explain the precise Paul says, “Let us, therefore, as sense in which the term is thus many as be perfect, be thus minded.”