« הקודםהמשך »
by the one offering of himself once offered up, hath made a full, perfect, and everlasting atonement, and now he reigns in our nature, possessed of all the fulness of grace, exercising the power of God in the salvation
you then come before the High God, come in the name of Jesus, and you shall find accept. ance.. In him God is well pleased *; and for his sake he is well pleased with all who honour his beloved Son, and put their trust in him. He has authority and compassion sufficient to save the most deplorable and the most unworthy. If you read the history of his life and death, you will read of a display of love and grace beyond expression; and he is the same still. Before he ascended, he left an assurance for your encouragement, that whosoever cometh unto him he will in nowise cast out. If
you say, I want faith, remember it is his gift, and he has promised to do whatever you ask in his name.
Therefore, fight against unbelief, resist Satan with the sword of the Spirit. If it is suggested that you are a great sinner, you cannot deny it, nor need you ; avow the charge, take shame to yourselves, and give glory to God; but it is equally true, that Jesus is a great Saviour, he is able to save to the uttermost; and though your iniquities are great, yet cast not away your hope, for his
greater than the heavens. When
you come in this way, what does the Lord require of you? Is it to make your own peace? He would as soon require you to make a new heaven and a new earth. Is it to keep your own soul? No more than he requires you to keep the sun in its course. His own arm has wrought salvation, and he will secure it.
* Matth. ii. 17.
He requires none of your help here; nay, he disdains the thought: you might as well offer to help him to govern the world. But this he requires of
“ to do justly, to love, mercy, and to walk humbly with thy “ God;" and the methods of his grace will enable you to do so.
1. “ To do justly.” We are by nature attached to worldly goods, and wholly influenced by selfish principles. But faith in Jesus communicates new motives, views, and aims, to the soul : it teaches us to have our treasure in heaven; to sit loose to the world ; to be satisfied with that station and competence which Divine Providence has allotted us; and to love our neighbours as ourselves, because they are our fellow-sinners, and are capable of being called to a participation with us in the honourable relation and privilege of the children of God. Upon these principles the practice of justice is attainable, but upon no other; for though there are many characters honourable and blameless in the outward concerns of life, and in the judgement of men, there is no person upon earth who does or can love or practise justice in its full extent, till he has received the Spirit of Christ, and lives upon him by faith, for wisdom and strength from day to day. 2. “ To love mercy.
None can truly love it but those who have tasted it. When your hearts feel the comforts of God's pardoning love, you will delight to imitate him. When you can truly rejoice that he has freely forgiven you that immense debt, which is expressed by ten thousand talents desire to take your fellow-servant by the throat for a few pence. This sense of God's goodness, and the
, you will have no
Matth. xviii, 24,
continual need you find of his renewed mercy from day to day, will soften your spirit (if you are a believer), disarm and gradually weaken every proud thought that would plead for the exercise of anger and resentment towards those who have offended you. You will be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath; you will put on (as the beloved of God) bowels of meekness long-suffering, and compassion, forbearing and forgiving, if you have ought against any; because God for Christ's sake has freely forgiven you. If you find this practice difficult, it is owing partly to the remaining depravity of your nature, and partly because you have had but a faint sense of his mercy. Pray for a more powerful manifestation of it, and you will do better; mercy will be your delight.
3. “To walk humbly.” “Can two walk together ex
cept they are agreed t?” When Christ is your peace, you will delight in God; you will set him before you, commune with him, study to please him, and to keep all his commandments. This is to walk with God; and you will walk humbly, remembering how much you owe to free grace, and how far you fall short in
best endeavours. These considerations, impressed by the Holy Spirit, will humble
will keep you from being high in your own esteem, wise in your own conceit, and from seeking great things for yourself. You will be habitually thankful when the Lord gives, content when he withholds, patient when he afflicts. You will confess yourself unworthy of the smallest mercies you possess, and acknowledge in your heaviest trials that he has laid far less upon you than your iniquities have deserved.
in Col. iii. 12.
+ Amos, iii. 3.
This is the pattern we are to copy after, and this is the certain tendency and effect of his grace. A measure of this disposition is found in all who are Christians indeed. Yet we may take shame to ourselves, that we are still so far defective in every branch of our duty. Let us stir up ourselves to greater diligence, watchfulness, and prayer, that we may obtain more lively, abiding, and transforming views of that which is our true good, that so we may be enabled to glorify our heavenly Father, and to adorn our profession, by doing justly, loving mercy, and walking humbly with our God.
OF A LIVING AND A DEAD FAITH.
JAMES, ¡i. 26. For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without
works is dead also.
WHOEVER has read the Scriptures with attention, must have observed several passages which, at first view, and till thoroughly examined and compared, appear hard to reconcile to each other. No instance of this sort is more remarkable than the seeming difference of judgement between St. Paul and St. James on the point of justification. St. Paul having said, “ That a
‘is justified by faith without the deeds of the " law","produces the example of Abraham to con
* Rom. üi. 28.
firm his assertion. St. James (in the chapter before us), from the example of the same Abraham, draws a conclusion which seems directly to contradict this: “ Ye see then how that by works a man is justified, “ and not by faith only *.”. Can any two opinions be more opposite in appearance? How then can both be true, or how can we believe both writers infallible in their doctrine, and influenced by the unerring Spirit of God? Must we cleave to the one, and reject the other? and if so, how shall we know which is the real truth?
We may confidently answer, The apostles are both right, their doctrine is equally from God, and does not clash in any particular. The darkness and diffi, culty is in the apprehensions of men, and not in the word of God. Yet a difficulty there is, and I hope I shall not detain you unprofitably at this time, by endeavouring to clear it, and afterwards to press upon you the words of my text as a proper inference from the whole.
When men who are strangers to Christian experi ence, and who trust more to their own sagacity and learning than to the word and Spirit of God, attempt to resolve cases of this sort, they make strange work. And it is no wonder; for how can any one explain what he does not understand ? It would tire
if I should relate a tenth part of the conjectures of learned men upon
this very subject. I shall mention one or two as a specimen. A writer of some eminence in the world, confesses the difficulty I have noticed in its full strength. He allows and affirms, that it is not only
* James, ii. 24.