« ՆախորդըՇարունակել »
body, and to set you down at the throne of God. Angels of light, those chariots and horses of fire, attend on every expiring saint; and not only, as guides, show his disembodied spirit the way to heaven; but, likewise guard him, during the passage ; and, it is probable, act as vehicles, to convey him thither; just as Lazarus was (a) carried by angels into Abraham's bosom.
Having thus traced the Christian in his spiritual journey, from nature to grace, and from grace to glory ; let me for the present leave him there; and address myself to those, who, as well as myself, are still detained in the wilderness, and whose tour is not yet finished.
The readers of this address, and indeed the whole world at large, may be distributed into two kinds of people; of those who are travelling to Canaan, and of those who are going the direct contrary way. There are but two roads : the broad, which leadeth to destruction; and the narrow, which opens into life. Travellers all mankind are; and travellers at a very swift rate. The grand point is, Where art thou travelling to ?
Are you desirous of knowing whither thy footsteps tend ; and toward what country thy face is set? Consult the way-marks. Look at the directing posts. Have recourse to the scriptures of truth. But study them on your knees, i. e. in a spirit of prayer, and with the simplicity of a little child.
Suppose for instance, we consult John xvi. 8.? where Christ thus describes the office of the Holy Ghost, and the effects which his converting influence
(α) Εθενείο-απενεχθηναι αυτον υπο των αγελων. i. e. He [viz. his soul was carried away, or borne off by angels (Luke xvi. 22.) Thus, as in life, so at death, does every one of God's elect experience the utmost accomplishment of that promise; He shall give his angels charge concerning thee, and in their hands shall they bear thee : acting as thy invisible shields on earth; and at last, as thy chariots and retinue, which shall convey thee to heaven. Such honour have all the saints! Hallelujah.
has on the human mind. “ When he is come,” when the blessed Spirit visits and renews the chosen and redeemed world, “He shall convince the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment:" i. e. He shall (first) feelingly demonstrate to them, their absolute sinnership, and their total helplessness; working in them a deep sense and real hatred of self and sin; he shall (secondly) lead them to rest on Christ, and on his righteousness, alone, for justification; and he shall (thirdly) spiritualize their desires, refine their tempers, sanctify their lives, and make them ready to every good word and work.
Now, bas God the Spirit done these things for you ? Has he wrought, or begun to work, this threefold conviction in your soul? If he has not, nor so much as kindled a groaning desire of it in your breast, I dare not give you the right hand of fellowship. I dare not salute you, as one of my fellow-travellers to the kingdom of God. No. You are yet in Egypt. And you will quickly be in hell, except the Holy Ghost take you by the hand, and take you by the heart, and lead you in Christ to Zion.
But, if you have ground to hope, that this work of grace is experienced by you in some degree; if, on looking at your soul in the gospel-glass, you can discern the traces of faith, love, repentance, and sanctification there; you are in the number of them who have set forth to go into the land of Canaan, and into the land of Canaan you shall come. Two things are particularly needful for you to observe: 1. That the world will endeavour to turn your feet out of the narrow way. If the wicked are so muzzled by providence, that they cannot bite; they will snarl, at least. If they cannot do you real injury they will probably pelt you with scandal, and sneer at you for being in their opinion, righteous overmuch. But let not this discourage you. Regard it no more than a traveller would mind a little dust
upon his shoes.
Imitate the blind man in the gospel ; who, the more he was exhorted by the multitudes to hold his peace, cried out, so much the more, Thou Son of David, have mercy on me. 2. Beware of sin. Shun the remotest appearance of evil. Think it not enough, to be for the main, in the right way; but endeavour to walk steadily and erectly in that way. Though a truly converted person cannot fall, as to turn back finally, and perish everlastingly; yet, without due attention, and watching unto prayer, he may kill his peace and joy in believing, and forfeit that inward testimony of the holy Spirit, that felt fellowship with God, and that sweet tranquillity of conscience, without which, living scarce deserves the name of life. It is a sad thing when a saint is overturned on the road, by being off his guard. Though he cannot lose his soul, yet a fall may break the neck of his comforts, dislocate his frame, and make him go halting to his journey's end. “ The devil,” as one justly remarks, never better pleased, than when he can roll a child of God in the dirt.” Beg the Lord, therefore, to hold up your goings in his paths, that your footsteps slip not.
Be it the language of your heart and of your conduct, I have put off my immoral coat; how then shall I again put it on ? I have washed my feet; and almighty grace forbid that I should any more defile them.
Yet, if you fall, be humbled; but do not despair. Pray afresh to God, who is able to raise you up, and to set you on your feet again. Look to the blood of the covenant; and say to the Lord, from the depth of your heart,
Rock of ages, cleft for me,
Make those words of the apostle, your motto: “ Perplexed, but not in despair ; cast down, but not destroyed.” It has been justly observed, that “it is one thing to fall into the mire; another thing to lie in it.” Away to the cross of Christ, and to the Spirit of God, for cleansing and for healing. Your covenant Father will then sprinkle you from an evil conscience, and make you recover the time and the ground you have lost. And, when thus graciously restored, look upon sin as the bitterest calamity that can befal you ; and consider those who would entice you to it, or be your partners in it, as the very worst enemies you have.
Soon shall we arrive where not only sin, but every temptation to it, and every propensity toward it, will cease for ever. As a good man once said on his death-bed, : « Hold out, faith and patience! yet a little while, and I shall need you no longer.”— When faith and patience have done and suffered their appointed work, the disciples of Christ shall ascend from the wilderness to paradise. With joy and gladness shall they be brought, and shall enter into the king's palace; singing, as they mount, “ Lift up your heads, ye celestial gates! and be ye lifted up, ye everlasting doors, that the heirs of glory may enter in. We are they, some of whom came out of great tribulation; but all of whom have washed our robes, and made them white in the blood of the Lamb. Stirred up by his effectual grace, we went forth to go into the land of Canaan; and clothed with his righteousness, and preserved by his power, into the land of Canaan we are come." Even so.
ESSAY ON ORIGINAL SIN.
By one man's disobedience, many were made sinners.
Rom. v. 19.
Self-knowledge is a science to which most persons pretend; but, like the philosopher's stone, it is a secret which none are masters of, in its full extent. The mystic writer's suppose, that before the fall, man's body was transparent, analogous to a system of animated chrystal. Be this as it may, we are sure that, was the mind now to inhabit a pellucid body, so pellucid as to make manifest all the thoughts and all the evil workings of the holiest heart on earth, the sight would shock and frighten and astonish even the most profligate sinner on this side hell. Every man would be an insupportable burden to himself, and a stalking horror to the rest of his species. For which reasons, among others,
Heaven's Sovereign saves all beings, but himself, That hideous sight, a naked human heart.
The most enlightened believer in the world, knows not the utmost of his natural depravation, nor is able to fathom that inward abyss of iniquity, which is perpetually throwing up mire and dirt ; and which, like a spring of poison at the bottom of a well, infects and discolours the whole mass. Let the light of scripture and of grace give us ever such humbling views of ourselves, and lead us ever so far into the chambers of imagery within, there still are more and greater abominations beyond; and, somewhat like the ages of eternity, the farther we advance, the more there is to come.