« ՆախորդըՇարունակել »
and of our renewal after his image; he will say, to our sleeping dust, in the morning of the resurrection,
Awake, and follow me,” follow me, first, into the blessedness of the millenniary state, and from thence to heaven. Then shall he call, and we shall answer ; he shall seek us, and each shall say, “ Here I am.
' We shall hear the voice, that shakes the earth and wakes the dead. We shall forsake the grave; rise up from the tomb, at our Lord's command ; leave all our imperfections behind us; and follow him : follow the Lamb whithersoever he goes, and be for ever with the Lord.
In the mean while, let us examine ourselves, whether we be in the faith; whether we have reason to trust, that the power of converting grace hath begun to work effectually upon our hearts. In a word, whether we have ever experienced, in a spiritual sense, any thing similar to what the text relates. Though we are not called to be apostles, yet all who shall appear with Christ in glory, are called to be saints. And what is a saint? one who is hallowed, or set apart, by divine grace, for the use and service of God: one who is made a partaker of that faith which relies, singly relies, on the blood and righteousness of Christ, for justification with God : and who is a subject of that holiness, without which none shall see the Lord: one who leaves all things, so far as they consist not with faith and good conscience; who counts all that earth can give, but dross and dung, when compared with the excellency of the knowledge of Christ, and with the privilege of being found in him ; who rises up into the moral likeness of God; and follows the Lord that bought him, in sanctification of the spirit and belief of the truth. Such persons have fellowship with the Father, and with his Son Jesus Christ: they have a manifest interest in the favour of the former, and in the merits of the latter. Walking in the fear of the Lord, and in the comforts of the Holy Ghost, they are built up into temples of God; their grace, their peace, their joy are multiplied.
After surveying this picture of a saint, next look into your own heart, and see if you can discover any resemblance of it in yourself; any corresponding features, any traces of the divine image there. For as face answers face in a glass, so the experience of one saint is in general, nearly similar to that of another. Some indeed may have a stronger likeness of their heavenly Father, than others : but every true believer does, in a greater or less degree, resemble God. Bring yourself therefore now to the test of God's word. Try your state and experience by the touchstone of the text. Has Christ ever said to you, by the still small voice of his good Spirit, “ Follow me?" if he has, you do follow him : for his will is effectual, and his command is ever accompanied with power. But is the unbeliever, the impenitent, the unholy, a follower of Christ? Surely, no. He only is a follower of his, who resolves the whole praise of his salvation into the grace of God, and the atonement of the cross, who is grieved at heart, for all that he has done against Jesus; and whose desire is practically to walk worthy of him, unto all well pleasing.
Hereby you may know whose image and superscription you bear. These are the outlines of that divine resemblance, in a restoration to which consist the dignity, and the happiness of man. Let this then be your prayer: “Try me, O God, and search the ground of my heart: prove me, and examine my thoughts. Look well if there be any wickedness in me, any root of bitterness yet undiscovered ; and lead me in the way everlasting. Show me the true state of my soul. Bring me out from every false refuge. Strip off every deceitful covering, every covering that is not of thy Spirit, Forbid, that the anchor of my hope should be cast, or the house of my dependence built, on any but Christ, the rock of
ages. Forbid, that I should rest short of that repentance which is thy gift, and is connected with life eternal: and forbid, O forbid, that I should sit down without aspiring to that conformity unto thee in righteousness and true holiness; abstracted from which, repentance is false, and faith is dead.”
Such are the breathings of the soul that is born of God. If this, O man, be not the language of thy inmost heart, thou art far from Christ, thou art yet in thy sins; thou hast not forsaken all; thou hast never been made to rise up and follow the Lamb of God. But, if this is thy wish and thy prayer, I am bold to say, that it is the echo of effectual grace; and that God hath begun that good work in thee, which shall be carried on to the day of Christ, and be found with honour and glory at bis appearance. That Spirit of regeneration, who hath drawn the outlines of his sacred image upon thy soul, will go on to improve the imperfect draught, until he hath touched it with the perfect likeness of his blessed self. What he hath begun in this life, shall be completed in the article of death. The dawn of grace, the morning of consummate sanctification, when thou art taken up to shine at God's right hand.
Until then, look incessantly unto Jesus, the author and finisher of faith. Even while the penitent sense of thy past offences, and of thy remaining imperfections, humbles thy soul, and overwhelms thy conscience with a holy blush ; let glowing gratitude, aspiring love, and unlimited confidence in the blood of sprinkling, exalt thy heart, and wing thy affections to the throne. And beware of ascribing any part of thy conversion to yourself; for the work was God's, and so should be the glory. Do not rob God, by putting free-will for free grace; but remember, that you never have rose up and followed Christ, if he had not, by the effectual call of his Spirit, said to your heart, “ Follow me.” For it is
no thanks to you but to him. If you love him, it is because he first loved you. Man's will was never yet beforehand with God.
“ Herein is love,” says the apostle; “ not that we loved God, but that God loved us, and sent,” &c. Under such impressions, David's devout aspiration will be the counterpart
“ Make me to go in the path of thy commandments, for therein is my desire. Whom have I in heaven but thee? and there is none upon earth, that I desire in comparison of thee !” Prelusive this, to that still more triumphant song, which the spirits of the just are now singing before the throne of God and the Lamb
; Blessing, and honour, and glory, and power, be unto him that sitteth upon
the throne, and to the Lamb, for ever and ever,
LIFE A JOURNEY.
GENESIS xii. 5.
“ They went forth to go into the land of Canaan ;
and into the land of Canaan they came.”
God having decreed to put Abram’s posterity into possession of the country, since called Palestine, commanded that patriarch to leave Chaldea, his native land, and to set out, with his family, for the place whither providence should lead him.
Abram, who had obtained mercy of the Lord to be faithful, was not disobedient to the heavenly vision : but, as the inspired penman informs us, he took Sarai (his wife), and Lot (his brother's son), and all the substance they had gathered, and the souls, or persons, which they had gotten in Haran; and they went forth to go into the land of Canaan, and into the land of Canaan they came. The same unchangeable God, who had promised to bring them into that land, actually brought them into the land he had promised: and they not only set out for Canaan, but arrived safely there, according to the purpose and promise of him who had bid them go.
Now, since Abram is distinguished in scripture, as father of the faithful; or as one, whose stedfast, unsuspecting confidence in the promises was singularly eminent; and whose faith, for that reason, stands on record as a pattern to the people of Christ in all succeeding generations ; since he was likewise a type of the church collective, which consists of, and takes in, all true believers, from the beginning to the end of time; and as the land of Canaan, to which Abram travelled, is represented in scripture