« הקודםהמשך »
able to say,
Every Christian who lives by faith must be
I will not, by the grace of God, live in any known sin whatever; I will not be careless or indifferent how. I lead my life, how I spend my time, how I spend my estate; I will not dishonour God, or my Christian profession, by an idle, useless life; in all my dealings with others, I will set this command of God before my eyes, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself; because I know and believe, that this is one of those two commands on which
salvation depends. I will not, therefore, want to be compelled to give every man his due, or not to hurt my neighbour. I will, (will every faithful Christian say,) I will make a conscience of doing the least wrong; of using any deceit or fraud; or of taking advantage of the ignorance or necessities of others. If I have done wrong to any man, I will make him restitution; and as for such as are my enemies, I will forgive, and give, and love, as becomes a disciple of Jesus Christ.
As to the duty which I owe to myself, I will consider, that the first and great duty is, to take care of my soul; I will therefore, (saith a Christian who lives by faith,) I will take special care to mind those rules of the gospel, which are absolutely necessary to fit me for heaven. Such are, self-denial, patience, humility, purity, and charity, how much soever they are neglected by the generality of Christians, as if they were no longer Christian duties. And as I pray daily that God's will may be done; for myself
, I will endeavour to resign my will to
the will of God in all the dispensations of his providence. And, forasmuch as the promise of seeing God is made to the pure in heart, I will endeavour to keep my heart from every
defile my soul, and grieve that Holy Spirit by which I have been sealed unto the day of redemption. Lastly, (will every faithful Christian say,) I will keep a watch over myself, that I may not resist or forget those good purposes which the good Spirit of God puts into my heart.
Such a faith, and such a life as this it is, Christians, that must recommend us to the favour of God; and to be easy in our minds upon any other terms, is to be in the way of perdition without knowing it.
These things we must do, or give up our hope of heaven. For, as sure as God is true, and his word certain, none must go to heaven but the good, the devout, the piously-disposed, the obedient, the sober, the chaste, the just, the honest, the religious Christian.
Let us not then, my Christian brethren, let us not content ourselves with the bare name of Christians, and with shadows of religion and piety, without striving after that holiness without which no man must see the Lord.
You see plainly, that to be a Christian, and a true Christian, are two very different things. A true Christian, knowing that the want of a lively faith is the occasion of all the wickedness we meet with in the world, therefore begs this grace of God, with all the earnestness of his soul; he studies, he attends to, the truths of the
pel, as that which must make him wise unto salvation; he resolves, that what he learns there he will believe, let what will be said against it; that what it requires, he will observe and follow, and avoid what it forbids; never consulting the way of the world, its customs, its favours, or its frowns. By doing which, he secures the favour of God, his grace here, and happiness hereafter.
On the other hand; they that live at all adventures, in a general forgetfulness of God, of their duty, and religion, without feeling any thing of its power; such people, under the name of Christians, are in truth unbelievers; and as such will be rejected of God, and will be reserved for a punishment dreadful to be named, however little they consider and think of it.
In short; God has given us a law by which he will judge us. By faith we receive this law; and by this we are to judge what our condition is like to be hereafter, whether happy or miserable.
That we may make this judgment impartially, let us consider what our thoughts will probably be when we come to die. Whether, for instance, we shall not be under a most terrible astonishment; when, reflecting upon our faith, and comparing it with our past life, it shall appear that we have lived in a plain neglect of what we profess to believe, and what we knew to be our duty. Or whether, upon comparing our life and our faith, we shall have the comfort of having lived by faith, repented of our errors, made our peace with God, and lived to bring forth fruits answerable to amendment of life.
One of these two will be the case of myself, and of all you that hear me; how soon we know not, but it highly concerns us to think of it, lest the night come when no man can work, before we have finished the work we have to do.
My design, you see, Christians, has been to put you upon considering and examining into the truth of your faith, and the state of your souls. By the short hints, which, for the sake of
your memory, I am going to give you, you will see who is, and who is not, in the
of life and salvation.
All such as fear God, and are afraid for themselves, on account of the corruption of their nature:-such as are truly sorry for having offended so gracious a God and Father, and resolve to do so no more; such as receive Jesus Christ as their lawgiver, saviour, and judge; such as strive to be holy in their lives, as God who hath called them is holy; such as watch, and purpose in their hearts to do nothing knowingly which may displease God: these have the principles of grace and life in them, and are in the way of life everlasting.
While such as are wilfully ignorant of God, and of the principles and duties of Christianity; such as are not sensible of the corruption of their nature, and the danger they are in on that account; such as see not, nor are sensible of the blessing of a Redeemer; such as are best pleased with such company and pleasures as divert the thoughts of what must come hereafter; such as live under the means of grace, without being bettered by them, whose hearts
are set upon the world and its idols: all these are in the way of certain ruin, though they will not think of it, though they will not believe it.
From all which it appears, how Christians are to judge of the truth and sincerity of their faith, even by the manner of their lives.
If a man fears God, he will be afraid to do any thing which he believes God has forbidden him; if he loves God, he will desire to please him; if he believes God to be the fountain and giver of all good, he will pray to him for all the good he wants and desires; if he believes that God ordereth all things with infinite wisdom and goodness, he will be pleased with all God's choices for himself and others.
Let no man, therefore, Aatter himself that he is a Christian, who does not do the things which Christ has commanded, and who will not learn from the example from the meekness, humility, patience, and self-denial, of Jesus Christ. He who will not be persuaded that this is the only way to be restored to the favour of God, can neither be happy in this world nor in the world to come.
To conclude all that I have to say upon this subject :-As Christians, we have the greatest obligations upon us to lead very serious, very holy lives.
We are blessed with the true knowledge of God; we have his own Son for our master, and teacher, and protector, and saviour, and mediator, and advocate; we are received into his family by baptism ; we have the Holy Ghost to assist us, and an interest in all the prayers made in his holy church throughout the