תמונות בעמוד

do it.” It is thy part, patiently to continue in the work of Faith, and in the labour of Love; and in cheerful peace, in humble confidence, with calın and resigned, and yet carnest expectation, to wait till the zeal of the Lord of Hosts shall perform this.

5. Fourthly, If they that " are in Christ, and walk after the Spirit,” are not condemned for sins of infirmity, as neither for involuntary failings, nor for any thing whatever which they are not able to help ; then beware, O thou that hast faith in his blood, that Satan herein “gain no advantage over thee." Thou art still foolish and weak, blind and ignorant; more weak than any words can express; more foolish than it can yet enter into thy heart to conceive ; knowing nothing yet as thou, oughtest to know. Yet let not all thy weakness and folly, or any fruit thereof, which thou art not yet able to avoid, shake thy faith, thy filial trust in God, or disturb thy peace or joy in the Lord. The rule which some give, as to wilful sins, and which, in that case, may perhaps be dangerous, is undoubtedly wise and safe, if it be applied only to the case of weakness and infirmities. Art thou fallen, O man of God ? Yet, do not lie there, fretting thyself and bemoaning thy weakness; but meekly say, Lord, I shall fall thus every moment, unless thou uphold me with thy band. And then arise! Leap and walk ! Go on thy way! “Run with patience the race set before thee."

6. Lastly. Since a believer need not come into condemnation, even though he be surprised into what his soul abhors; (suppose his being suprised is not owing to any carelessness or wilful neglect of his own ;) if thou who believest, art thus overtaken in a fault, iben grieve unto the Lord; it shall be a precious balm : pour out thy heart before him, and show him of thy trouble. And pray with all thy might to him who is “ touched with the feeling of thy infirmities,” that he would establish, and strengthen, and settle thy soul, and suffer thçe to fall no more. But still he condemneth thee not. Wherefore shouldest thou fear! Thou hast no need of any “fare that hath torment." Thou shalt love him that loveth thee, and it sufficeth: more love will bring more strength. And, as soon as thou lovest him with all thy heart, thou shalt be “perfect and entire, lacking nothing.”. Wait in peace for that hour, when “the God of peace shall sanctify thee wholly, so that thy whole spirit, and soul, and body, may be preserved blameless unto the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ !”




Ye have not received ihe spirit of bondage aguin unto four' ;

but ye have reccived the Spirit of adoption, wherehy we cry Abbi, Father.Rom. viii. 15.

1. Sr. Paul here speaks to those who are the children of God by Faith. “ Ye," saith he, who are indeed his children, have drank into his Spirit ; " ye have not received the spirit of bondage again unto fear; ” “but, because ye are sons, God hath sent forth the Spirit of his Son into your licarts.” “ Ye received the Spirit of Adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father."

2. The Spirit of Bondage and Fear is widely distant from this loving Spirit of Adoption : those who are influenced only by Glavish fear, cannot be termed “ The Sons of God;" yet some of them may be styled his servants, and are “not far from the kingdom of heaven.”

3. But it is to be feared, the bulk of mankind, yca, of what is called The Christian Worlıl, have not attained even this; but are still afar off, “neither is God in all their thoughts.” A few james may be found of those who love God; a few more there are that fear him; but the greater part have neither the fear of God before their eyes, nor the love of God in their hearts.

4. Perhaps most of you, who, by the mercy of God now partake of a better spirit, may remember the time when yo were as they, when ye rere under the same condemnation. But at first ye kucw it not, though ye were wallowing daily in your sins aud in your blood; till, in due time, ye “received the Spirit of Fcar;” (ye received, for this also is the gift of God;) and afterwards, fear vanished away, and the Spirit of Love filled your hearts.

5. One who is in the first state of mind, without fear or love, is iu Scripture termed a Valdurul Man: One who is

under the Spirit of Bondage and Fear, is sometimes said to be under the Law: (although that expression more frequently signifies one who is under the Jewish Dispensation, or whothinks himself obliged to observe all the Rites and Ceremonies of the Jewish Law:) But one who has exchanged the Spirit of Fear for the Spirit of Love, is properly said to be under Grace.

Now, because it highly imports us to know what spirit we are of, I shall endeavour to point out distinctly, First, The state of a Natural Man: Secondly, That of one who is under the Law: and, Thirdly, of one who is under Grace.

I. I. And, first, the state of a Natural Man. This the Scripture represents as a state of Sleep: the voice of God to him is, “Awake, thou that sleepest." For his soul is in a deep sleep: his spiritual senses are not awake: they discern neither spiritual good nor evil. The eyes of his understanding are closed; they are sealed together, and see not. Clouds and darkness continually rest upon them; for he lies in the valley of the shadow of death. Hence, having no inlets for the knowledge of spiritual things, all the avenues of his soul being shut up, he is in gross, stupid ignorance of whatever he is most concerned to know. He is útterly ignorant of God, knowing nothing concerning him as he ought to know. He is totally a stranger to the Law of God, as to its true, inward, spiritual meaning. He has no conception of that evangelical holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord ; nor of the happiness, which they only find, whose “life is hid with Christ in God.”

2. And, for this very reason, because he is fast asleep, he is, in some sense, at Rest. Because he is blind, he is also secure: he saith, “Tush, there shall no harm happen unto me.” The darkness which covers him on every side, keeps him in a kind of peace; so far as peace can consist with the works of the Devil, and with an earthly, devilish mind. He sees not that he stands on the edge of the pit, therefore he fears it not. He cannot tremble at the danger he does not know. He has not understanding enough to fear. Why is it that he is in no dread of God ? Because he is totally ignorapt of him : if not saying in his heart, “There is no God;” or, that “he sitteth on the circle of the heavens, and humbleth not himself to behold the things which are done on earth;” yet, satisfying himself as well, to all Epicurean intents and purposes, by saying, “God is merciful;” confounding and swallowing up all at once, in that unwieldy idea of mercy, all his holiness and essential hatred of sin; all his justice, wisdom, and truth. He is in no dread of the vengeance denounced against those who obey not the blessed Law of God, because he understands it not. He imagines the main point is, To do thus, to be outwardly blameless; and sces not that it extends to every temper, desire, thought, motion of the heart. Or he fancies that the obligation hereto is ccased; that Christ came to “destroy the Law and the Prophets ; ” to save his people in, not from their sins; to bring them to heaven without holiness :-notwithstanding his own words, “Not one jot or tittle of the Law shall pass away, till all things are fulhlled ;” and, “Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord! shall enter into the kingdom of heaven ; but he that doeth the Will of my Father which is in lieaven.”

3. He is secure, because he is utterly ignorant of himself. Hence he talks of “repenting by and by;" he does not indeed exactly know when, but some time or other before he dies; taking it for granted, that this is quite in his own power. For what should binder his doing it, if he will? If he does but once set a resolution, no fear but he will make it good !

4. But this ignorance never so strongly glares, as in those who are termed, men of Learning. If a natural nian be one of these, he can talk at large of his rational faculties, of the freedom of his will, and the absolute necessity of such freedom, in order to constitutc man a moral agent. He reads, and argues, and proves to a demonstration, that every man may do as he will; may dispose his own heart to evil or good, as it seems best in his own eyes. Thus the god of this world spreads a double veil of blindness over his heart, lest, by any means, “the light of the glorious gospel of Christ should shine” upon it.

5. From the same ignorance of himself and God, there may sometimes arise, in the natural man, a kind of Joy, in congratulating himself upon his own wisdom and goodness : and what the world calls joy, he may often possess. He may have pleasure in various kinds ; either in gratifying the desires of the flesh, or the desire of the eye, or the pride of life; particularly if he has large possessions ; if he enjoy an affluent fortune; then he may “clothe” himself “ in purple and fine linen, and fare sumptuously every day.” And so long as he thus doeth well unto himself, men will doubtless speak good of him. They will say, “ He is a happy man. For, indeed, this is the sum of

worldly happiness; to dress, and visit, and talk, and eat, and drink, and rise up to play.

6. It is not surprising, if one in such circumstances as these, dozed with the opiates of flautery and sin, should imagine, among his other waking dreams, that he walks in great liberty. How easily may he persuade himself, that he is at liberty from all vulgar errors, and from the prejudice of education, judging exactly right, and keeping clear of all extremes. “I am free (may 'he say) from all the enthusiasm of weak and narrow souls; from superstition, the disease of fools and cowards, always righteous over much; and from bigotry, continually incident to those who have not a free and generous way of thinking.” And too sure it is, that he is altogether free from the “ wisdom which cometh from above,” from holiness, from the religion of the heart, from the whole mind which was in Christ.

7. For all this time he is the ssrvant of sin. He commits sin, more or less, day by day. Yet he is not troubled : he “is in no bondage," as some speak; he feels no condemnation. He contents himself, (even though he should profess to believe that the Christian Revelation is of God,) with, “Man is frail. We are all weak. Every man has bis infirmity.” Perhaps he quotes Scripture: “Why, does not Solomon say,-The righteous man falls into sin seven times a day!-And, doubtless, they are all hypocrites or enthusiasts who pretend to be better than their neighbours.” If, at any time, a serious thought fix upon him, he stifles it as soon as possible, with, “Why should I fear, since God is merciful, and Christ died for sinners ?” Thus, he remains a willing servant of sin, content with the bondage of corruption; inwardly and outwardly unholy, and satisfied therewith; not only not conquering sin, but not striving to conquer, particularly that sin which doth so easily beset him.

8. Such is the state of every Natural Man; whether he be a · gross, scandalous transgressor, or a more reputable and decent sinner, having the form, though not the power of godliness. But how can such an one be convinced of Sin? How is he brought to repent ? To be under the Law ? To receive the Spirit of Bondage unto Fear This is the point which is next to be considered.

II. 1. By some awful Providence, or by his Word applied with the demonstration of his Spirit, God touches the heart of

« הקודםהמשך »