« הקודםהמשך »
all other snares of the Devil, of resting on unholy, unsaving faith! If thou layest stress on this, thou art lost for ever: thou still buildest thy house upon the sand. When " the rain descends, and the floods come, it will surely fall, and great will be the fall of it."
6. Now, therefore, build thou upon a Rock. By the grace of God, know thyself. Know and feel that thou wast shapen in wickedness, and in sin did thy mother conceive thee; and that thou thyself hast been heaping sin upon sin, ever since thou couldest discern good from evil. Own thyself guilty of eternal death; and renounce all hope of ever being able to save thyself. Be it all thy hope, to be washed in His blood, and purified by His Spirit, " who himself bore [all] thy sins in his own body upon the tree." And if thou knowest he hath taken away thy sins, so much the more abase thyself before him, in a continual sense of thy total dependance on Him for eveiy good thought, and word, and work, and of thy utter inability to all good, unless he " water thee every moment."
7. Now weep for your sins, and mourn after God, till he turns your heaviness into joy. And even then weep with them that weep j and for them that weep not for themselves. Mourn for the sins and miseries of mankind; and see, but just before your eyes, the immense ocean of eternity, without a bottom or a shore, which has already swallowed up millions of millions of men, and is gaping to devour them that yet remain! See here, the house of God eternal in the heavens! there, hell and destruction without a covering!—and thence learn the importance of every moment, which just appears, and is gone for ever!
8. Now add to your seriousness, meekness of wisdom. Hold an even scale as to all your passions, but in particular, as to anger, sorrow, and fear. Calmly acquiesce in whatsoever is the Will of God. Learn in every state wherein you are, therewith to be content. Be mild to the good: be gentle toward all men; but especially toward the evil and the unthankful. Beware, not only of outward expressions of anger, such as calling thy brother, Raca, or Thou fool; but of every inward emotion contrary to love, though it go no farther than the heart. Be angry at sin, as an affront offered to the Majesty of Heaven; but love the sinner still: like our Lord, who "looked round about upon the Pharisees with anger, being grieved for the hardness of their hearts." He was grieved at the sinners, angry at the sin. Thus be thou "angry, and sin not!"
<). Now do thou hunger and thirst, not for "the ineat that jHrisheth, but lor that which endureth unto everlasting life." Trample underfoot the world, and the things of the world; all these riches, honours, pleasures. What is the world u> thee? Let the dead bury lheir dead; but follow thou after the image of God. And beware of quenching that blessed thirst, if it is already excited in thy soul, by what is vulgarly called Religion; a poor, dull farce, a religion of form, of outside show, which leaves the heart still cleaving to the dust, as earthly and sensual as ever. Let nothing satisfy thee but the power of godliness, but a Religion that is spirit and life; the dwelling in Cod and God in thee; the being an inhabitant of eternity; the entering in by the blood of sprinkling " within the veil," and " sitting in heavenly places with Christ Jesus!"
10. Now, seeing thou canst do all things through Christ strengthening thee, he merciful as thy Father in heaven is merciful! Love thy neighbour as thyself! Love friends and enemies as thy own soul! And let thy love be long-suffering and patient to all men. Let it be kind, soft, benign; inspiring thee with the most amiable sweetness, and the most fervent and tender affection. Let it rejoice in the truth, wheresoever it is found; the truth that is after godliness. Enjoy whatsoever brings glory to God, and promotes peace and goodwill among men. In love, cover all things,—of the dead and the absent speaking nothing hut good; believe all things, which may any way tend to clear your neighbour's character; hope all things, in his favour; and endure all things, triumphing over all opposition: For true love never faileth, in time or in eternity.
11. Now lie thou pure in heart; purified throngh faith from every unholy affection; "cleansing thyself from all filtiiiness of flesh and spirit, and perfecting holiness in the fear of God." Being, through the power of His grace, purified from pride, by deep poverty of spirit; from anger, from every unkind or turbulent passion, by meekness and mercifulness; from every desire but to please and enjoy God, by hunger and thirst after righteousness; now love the Lord thy God with nil thy heart, and with all thy strength!
12. In a word: Let thy religion be the Religion of the Heart. Let it lie deep in thy inmost soul. Be thou little and base, and mean, and vile (beyond what words can express) in thy own eyes; amazed and humbled to the dust, by the love of God which is in Christ Jesus. Be serious. Let the whole stream of thy thoughts, words, and actions, flow from the deepest conviction that thou standest on the edge of the great gulf, thou and all the children of men, just ready to drop in, either into everlasting glory or everlasting burnings! Let thy soul be filled with mildness, gentleness, patience, longsuffcring towards all men ;—at the same time that all which is in thee is athirst for God, the living God; longing to awake up after his likeness, and to be satisfied with it! Be thou a lover of God, and of all mankind! In this spirit, do and suffer all things! Thus show thy faith by thy works; thus "do the will of thy Father which is in heaven!" And, as sure as thou now walkest with God on earth, thou shalt also reign with him in glory!
THE ORIGINAL, NATURE, PROPERTIES,
"Wherefore the law is holt/, find the commandment holt/, and just, and good." Rom. vii. 12.
1. Pkhhaj's there arc few subjects within the whole compass of Religion, so little understood as this. The reader of this Epistle is usually told, by the Law St. Paul means the Jewish Law; and so apprehending himself to have no concern therewith, passes on without farther thought about it. Indeed some are not satisfied with this account; but observing the Lpistle is directed to the Romans, thence infer, that the Apostle in the beginning of this chapter alludes to the old Roman Law. But as they have no more concern with this, than with the ceremonial law of Moses, so they spend not much thought on what they suppose is occasionally mentioned, barely to illustrate another thing.
2. But a careful observer of the Apostle's discourse, will not be content with these slight explications of it. And the more he weighs the words, the more convinced he will be, that St. Paul by the Law mentioned in this chapter, docs not mean either the ancient law of Rome, or the ceremonial law of Moses. This will clearly appear to all who attentively consider the tenor of his discourse. He begins the chapter, "Know ye not, brethren, (for I speak to them that know the law,) [to them who have been instructed therein from their youth,] that the law hath dominion over a man as long as he livcth?" (What the law of Rome only, or the ceremonial law? No surely; but the Moral Law.) "For," to give a plain instance, "the woman which hath an husband is bound by the [moral] law to her husband so long as he liveth; But if the husband be dead, she is looked from the law of her husband. So then if, while her husband liveth, she be married to another man, she shall be called an adulteress: but if her husband be dead, she is free from that law; so that she is no adulteress though she be married to another man." From this particular instance the Apostle proceeds to draw that general conclusion: "Wherefore, my brethren," by a plain parity of reason, "ye also are become dead to the law," the whole Mosaic Institution, " by the body of Christ," offered for you, and bringing you under a new dispensation: "That ye should [without any blame] be married to another, even to him who is raised from the dend;" and hath thereby given proof of his authority to make the change; "that we should bring forth fruit unto God." And this we can do now, whereas before we could not: "For when we were in the flesh," under the power of the flesh, that is, of corrupt nature, [which was necessarily the case till we knew the power of Christ's resurrection,] "the motions of sins, which were by the law,"—which were shown and inflamed by the Mosaic law, not conquered,—"did work in our members,"—broke out various ways,—" to bring forth fruit unto death." "But now we are delivered from the law; "—from that whole moral, as well as ceremonial economy; "that being dead whereby we were held;"—that entire institution being now as it were dead, and having no more authority over us, than the husband, when dead, hath over his wife: " That we should serve him,"— who died for us and rose again, "in newness of spirit; "—in a new spiritual dispensation; "and not in the oldness of the letter j "—with a bare outward service, according to the letter of the Mosaic institution. (Ver. 1—6.)
3, The Apostle, having gone thus far in proving that the Christian had set aside the Jewish dispensation, and that the moral law itself, though it could never pass away, yet stood on a different foundation from what it did before,—now stops to propose and answer an objection: "What shall we say then? Is the law sin?" So some might infer from a misapprehension of those words, " the motions of sins which were by the law." "God forbid!" saith the Apostle, that we should Ray so. Nay, the law is an irrecoucileable enemy to sin; searching it out wherever it is. "I had not known sin, but by the law: for I had not known lust," evil desire, to be sin, " except the law had said, Thou shall not covet." (Ver. 7-) After opening this farther, in the four following verses, he subjoins this general conclusion, with regard more especially to the moral law, from which the preceding instance was
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