« ElőzőTovább »
heart was deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked. He thought that he was rich, increased in goods, and had need of nothing; not that he was poor, miserable, blind, naked, and in want of all things. When told of his character and condition, by some faithful minister, or some Christian friend, he did not believe them. All these things, he was ready to say, have I kept from my youth up: What lack I?
But his views are now totally changed. He sees that he has been violating the first commandment, through his whole course of moral action he has had another God before Jehovah, and been serving the creature, not the Creator. He has sought his own glory, above the glory of God and all the happiness of His kingdom. Never has he such views of the desperate wickedness of the human heart, as when, with fixed eye, he gazes on himself. He has been regardless of the Saviour, deaf to the calls of mercy, and trampling on dying love. O, he is vile, and has nothing to answer. His very soul is stained with guilt, which nothing but the blood of Christ can wash away. Now he sees, why Jesus must enter the holy place with His blood; and begins to feel the worth of a Saviour. Now, too, he feels his need of a Sanctifier, who can create in him a clean heart, and renew a right spirit within him; who, though his sins are indeed as scarlet, and as crimson, can make them white as snow. And while he finds that in himself dwells no good thing, and cries, in anguish of spirit, Who shall deliver me from the body of this death? he is enabled, through grace, to add, Thanks be to God who giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. I live, yet not I; but Christ liveth in me: and, by the grace of God, I am what I am.
He has new views and feelings with regard to his fellow-men. Once he looked on them with a great degree of indifference; unless they were, in some way, particularly connected with him. The consequence was, he would do little, except for himself, his relatives, or particular friends. And he would do little for them, except for the body, or for this world. His soul was bounded, on every side, by the narrow limits of self, and of time.
ow, he rises, and looks over the whole family of man. He views each one that passes before his mind, with deep emotion, and ardently longs for his eternal good. His eye fastens on the soul; he follows it on to the judgment, and onward still, while it expands in endless being;
and he feels that it is worth a thousand worlds: it lives when worlds expire, and lives to sing-or weep for ever. Hence you may see him laying out plans for doing good hundreds and thousands of years to come; and to the whole empire of Jehovah. Bursting out from the limits of self, and of time, his love, like the light of heaven, pours forth on creation, and settles upon every object that is able to receive it : it goes onward into eternity, and onward-and too divine to spend itself on creatures, it rises up to God,—and, kindled anew by the glories of the Godhead, shines brighter and brighter for ever. Show him the will of God, and you govern him to all eternity; and his grand object at every step will be, to become more and more like God. The consequence is,
V. The man who is in Christ has new joys. His joys are as much more pure, expansive, and exalted, as are his views, affections, and efforts. Once, he rejoiced in himself, and in this world. His joys rose or fell, as he thought himself and his connexions to be, for this world, exalted, or depressed.
Now, he rejoices in hope of the glory of God, and in the rising prospects of Immanuel's kingdom. Hence he loves the Bible in which these prospects are unfolded. He makes it the man of his counsel, his daily companion, and he reads it with great delight; especially the promises made to Zion. As he reads, the prospect brightens; he gåzes with new delight, and is borne along till he sees the wilderness bud and blossom; hears songs of deliverance in the desert, and praises of salvation from every land, to God and his Christ. And as he gazes, and wonders, and adores, he is borne onward till he sees a multitude that no man can number, coming up in glorified bodies, like the body of Jesus Christ;-he sees them ascending, and catches their alleluias, as they enter heaven and bow with rapture before Him that loved them and gave himself for them. And,
VI. He has new hopes. He hopes soon to be among them, and to make one in that great congregation.
I do not mean by this, that he had no hope in days of impenitence and unbelief. He had a hope. But what good did it do him? It did not purify his soul. It did not wean him from the world. It did not make him like Christ; nor did it fit him for the employments or the joys of heaven. Had he died with only that hope, he would have been, to-day, in hopeless despair.
Now, he has a good hope. It arises from having the love of God shed abroad in his heart by the Holy Ghost. It weans him from the world, quickens him in duty, and leads him to have respect to all God's commandments. It leads him to be humble, to abhor himself, to hunger and thirst after righteousness, to have his heart and conversation in heaven, and to "purify himself, even as God is pure."
Nor will this hope, like that of the wicked, perish at the giving up of the ghost. No, it will be an anchor sure and steadfast, entering into that within the veil; and it will not fail, till it is swallowed up in cloudless, and eternal vision. Even now, he is borne in everlasting arms; angels minister unto him; all things work together for his good, and help to increase that exceeding and eternal weight of glory. And when absent from the body, he is present with the Lord-he sees Him as he is—he is like Him, and mingles with that multitude which no man can number, in their anthem of glory to Him that sitteth upon the throne, and to the Lamb for ever and ever.
In view of what has been suggested, I remark,
1. That the man who is in Christ has experienced a great change.
If he has a new God, a new object of pursuit, a new rule of action, and lives a new life, a life of obedience to God; if his outward actions spring from new views and feelings with regard to God, to Jesus Christ, to the Holy Ghost, to himself, and his fellow men; if these views and feelings lead him to have respect to all God's commandments; and thus give him new joys, and new hopes, hopes, well founded, of dwelling eternally with God, and being in heart, perfectly like Him,-then surely he has experienced a great change. The Holy Ghost did not say too much, when in describing it He said, "born again"—"created anew"-" brought out of darkness into marvellous light”
passed from death unto life."
2. If he who is in Christ has experienced this great change, then there is a great difference between the man who is in Christ, and the man who is out of Christ; or, in other words, between a saint and a sinner.
If men can bring themselves to believe that there is no great difference of character between saints and sinners here, then they hope that there will be no great difference of condition between them hereafter. But such a hope is vain. Say ye, saith God, to the righteous, It shall be well with him. But, wo unto the wicked, it shall be ill with him. The difference of character is so great between them, in this world, as to fit them for that great and eternal difference of condition in the world to come.
The gods they serve are of totally different characters. The God of the saint, is as different from the god of the sinner, as the Holy One of Israel is from a sinful dying man. This makes a great difference between their own characters, in this world; and it must make a great and eternal difference between their conditions in the world to come. Jehovah requires the heart. If this is withheld, he is robbed of every thing. And should any one continue to withhold his heart from God, and give it to other objects, he will depart accursed into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels;-he will be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord, and from the glory of his power.
Fellow-mortal, hastening to the judgment; have you become a new creature? I do not ask you when, nor where, nor how; but have you ever become a new creature? Have you chosen Jehovah, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost, for your God? Is it your great object to glorify Him? and is His revealed will your rule of action? Do you have respect to all his commandments, for the sako of glorifying Him, and doing good; trusting in Jesus Christ for what you need, to do this, and to be accepted in it? Do you love Jesus Christ; and contemplate with joy the rising prospects of His holy kingdom? Will you spend, and be spent in promoting his glory; in extending the honour of His name; and living not unto yourself, but unto Him that died for you and rose again? If so, you may hope that you are a new creature. And if a new creature, immortal glories await you. All things are yours; life, death, things present, things to come, all are yours. You are borne in everlasting arms; and when you put off the body, angels attend you the gate of heaven opens-and multitudes that no man can number, shout your arrival. You are then with Christ, and see the glory which he had with the Father before the world was. You veil your face, cast down your crown, and, with saints and angels in heaven, cry, Worthy is the Lamb that was slain to receive power, and riches, and wisdom, and strength, and honour, and glory, and blessing.
But where is he who is not a new creature, when he dies?-Sinking, and sinking, downward, and still farther downward, in the bottomless pit, for ever and ever! His heart can not endure-his hand can not be strong; for who can dwell with devouring fire? who can inherit everlasting burnings?
END OF VOL. I.
AUSTIN DICKINSON, A.M.
Now there are diversities of gifts, but the same Spirit. And there are differences of administrations, but the same Lord."-1 Cor. xii. 4,5.
"In the midst of the street of it, and on either side of the river, was there the tree of life, which bare twelve manner of fruits, and yielded her fruit every month: and the leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations."-Rev. xxii. 2.
FOR THE YEAR COMMENCING JUNE 1827
PRINTED BY J. & J. HARPER,
No. 82 CLIFF-STREET.