תמונות בעמוד

absurd to suppose He could approve of a conduct which the holiness of his nature would not permit him to exhibit. As He is the Supreme Standard of moral rectitude, no higher criterion of right and wrong can be conceived than what arises from the agreement of an action with His nature and character—on which account he proposes himself to our imitation. Be ye holy-for I am holy. Be ye followers of God as dear children. The highest attainment of a creature is, in compliance with the general design of the Christian religion, to become a partaker of His holiness.

The paths of dissimulation are dark and crooked, diametrically opposed to walking in the light as He is in the light, which is, however, the indispensable condition of enjoying fellowship with



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SOUL-WORK is at once the most difficult, the most important, and the most urgent. The most difficult, for it is against corrupt nature; the most important, for it relates to our eternal condition; the most urgent, for we are allowed only the present moment to attend to it. All confess it to be so, when death is near and eternity in prospect. Then they feel the force of the question, “What is a man profited if he has gained the whole world, and has lost his own soul ?” The world cannot accompany us into eternity. But the soul must depart alone. It will be happy or miserable for ever without this world; without any part of its possessions; without any dependence upon it, and after the whole has perished. But the soul lost, that is, summoned

away from the world with all its guilt and sin, and without repentance, is for ever cut off from happiness and consigned to

misery. Our Lord intended to teach us by the passage of scripture just quoted, that the man who gains the world, but loses his soul, instead of being, as he imagines, a gainer, is an infinite loser. Let me then enquire seriously and affectionately what are you doing for the salvation of your souls ? What have you been doing all your life long? Have you arrived at satisfaction and solid hope, or are you yet in uncertainty and in impenitency? Have you sought to lay up a treasure in the heavens that fadeth not, or are youyet seeking an earthly portion ? Are you

rich in faith towards God, or are you at the present moment striving only for worldly gain or worldly pleasure, as if they were all in all, and quite sufficient for your everlasting happiness? It is to be feared there are yet many who do not deny the scripture to be God's word, do not openly reject the Saviour, and do not disbelieve that they have an immortal soul which must be lost or saved; but they are bewitched with the things of time and sense. Let the preacher then call upon such to consider the urgency of their souls' affairs. Let him entreat such no longer to defer what ought to have been attended to before, and what, if delayed but another day, may be attended to a day too late.

From the words of the text you are reminded,

There is no occasion to extend the meaning of our text to natural and temporal things; or to urge from them promptitude and diligence in business; though such a sense may be included, and is not unworthy the divine wisdom to inculcate. more immediate' concern with these words is, to improve them in reference to the first and greatest business of life, though generally that which is least and last in men's thoughts.

1. The first thing that should engage our attention, because it is the most momentous of all, is the salvation of our souls.

-“Work out your own salvation with fear and trembling,” is a divine command. To obtain a personal interest in the covenant of God's grace, which reveals pardon for the guilty through penitence and faith, purity for the polluted through the renewing of God's Spirit, life for the dead through the application of the

But our

blood of Christ to the conscience this is every one's proper business. This is salvation! This is the salvation of the soul! Consider this word—the soul. Can you tell what is its full meaning? Do you feel that you have an immortal soul, that must be lost or saved ? Do you fully and clearly understand that by this term is signified an intelligent, immortal being, that is capable of consummate happiness, or of inconceivable misery? a being that shall outlive the world, that shall see no end, and that shall remain for ever fixed in its state of pleasure, or suffering, when it leaves this world ? Do you consider what is included in this one word, the soul, besides intelligence and immortality? It is a fallen nature; a polluted, degraded, and miserable intelligence, which its Creator has doomed, because of sin, to everlasting misery; and which has no power to annul the fearful sentence, and no power to resist it. It is moreover born in sin, and shapen in iniquity. It is the subject of hateful and impious propensities. It is in a state of grievous darkness, perplexity, and guilty fear. It daily stands in jeopardy of sudden destruction from the presence of the Lord, and from the glory of his power. There is indeed something for you to do, to secure the salvation of your soul from this misery and ruin.

2. The next consideration relates to the Covenant of redemption.-Have you paid close and serious attention to this? know what it expresses and conveys

of the divine mercy to sinful men, who repent and believe? What it reveals of the divine will for our salvation? The covenant of grace is that engagement into which the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, entered for the redemption of sinners. It is your proper business to understand it, that you may believe it; for you cannot profitably and savingly believe it, till you understand it. This divine plan of redemption reveals the Father as loving the world, and giving his Son to redeem it; the Son of God as freely laying down his life for our offences, and gloriously rising again for our justification; the Spirit as effectually working in our hearts to produce light, and life, and love. Now here is something for you to do. What efforts have you made to obtain a personal interest in the blessings of this redemption, and to show

Do you


you have been transformed by its divine influence on your heart? Can it be that you profess to believe all these truths, and yet sit down in apathy and idleness, without inquiring, “What must I do to be saved ?" With all the evidences of your own sinfulness before you, the full consciousness of your depravity and alienation from God, and the revelation of the divine

mercy in your hands, is it possible that you remain careless, undecided, or without a broken heart for sin ? Awake, then, to a due sense of this great and important work to which you are called. You have to strive against your hard and impenitent heart; you have to conquer your unbelief, your love of sin, your love of the world, and every other love that is stronger than the love of Christ. You have a journey to pursue, and the day is perhaps far spent, and the night may come before you have commenced it. You have a combat to begin, a strenuous battle to wage against your spiritual foes, and have you not yet taken up or buckled on the armour? Christ

“ Come and follow

me,' "strive to enter in at the strait gate,”—and he does not say so either without any meaning, or merely to mock our weakness, but to rouse us to deep concern, and to a feeling sense of our urgent need of his grace. We cannot be saved without exertion and diligence, and our exertion and diligence, without his co-operating grace, will be utterly in vain. Yet when his admonition arrests our attention, rouses our heart to inquiry, and excites our will to make the good resolve that we will seek his grace, then he imparts it freely and sufficiently. If I were to tell you that in a certain spot of earth there was a mine of gold, from which I had enriched myself-that you might do the same if only you would go and seek it, and dig for it, surely you would not long remain idle and in want, while you might so easily obtain riches. Now the Bible is the word of God, the record of salvation. The treasure of divine grace is there. Will you seek for it? Will you not labour for these riches ? He that seeks shall find; he that asks shall receive. You can ask of God; you can pray fervently, and perseveringly. Without prayer you cannot expect to enjoy either pardon, purity, or peace. But

can not only pray and



in prayer,

you can deny sinful affections, resist the temptation of bad company, and lay open your heart to the searching light of the divine word. You can submit to the divine authority, and choose to walk in the way of God's commands. These things will indeed require good thoughts, good resolutions, good dispositions. You say you cannot give yourselves these; true, but you can obtain them all at the throne of the heavenly grace. Behold the poor publican in the Gospel! He probably had no words, or but very few, and those interrupted with sighs and groans. He went into the temple, though he felt he had no righteousness, but much sin: yet he went because he felt it to be an imperative duty to pray:


you must go and do likewise, for God's command is upon you, and you have not yet obeyed it, or not in a right spirit. Go then and ask, and he will teach you both how to pray, and what to ask. To flee from sin, to forsake the way of transgressors, to discern and resist temptation,—these are parts of your duty. But you must believe the Gospel, look to Christ as the substitute for your souls, believe in the efficacy of his blood to procure your forgiveness, and in his promise of life eternal. “This is the word of God, that


on him whom he hath sent.”

3. Observe, you have much to do for the glory of God, for the advancement of your Saviour's honour, and for the good of your fellow-men.—You must not live to yourselves, but unto him who died for

and rose again.

You must strive to become examples unto others, patterns of purity and goodness. You may have much to do in your families, for your children and servants, in showing to them the way of salvation. You must endeavour to “let your light shine before men, may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven.” You have to employ your influence, to consecrate your minds, and devote some portion of your time, influence, and money, to do good. I name not these things as matters which you may find to do if you please; but as things which you must do, to prove the sincerity of your love and faith, without which you cannot be admitted to have a scriptural claim to the Christian character, and in the neglect of which you will


that they

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