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disciple is ready to be absolved. If the master is satisfied with a Christian name, and formal observances, and a deathbed sacrament, the disciple is willing to be lulled into a false security. If the watchmen“ are blind,” are “ignorant,” are “ dumb,”
, Satan will gain his advantage over the heart, for it is not warned of his devices; and both they and the people “shall fall : in the time of their visitation they shall not stand, saith the Lord :" “ the wicked man shall die in his iniquity;" and the watchman has not “ delivered his own soul."
(Matt. vii. 3—5.)
41. And why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother's eye, but perceivest not the beam that is in thine own eye.
42. Either how canst thou say to thy brother, Brother, let me pull out the mote that is in thine eye, when thou thyself beholdest not the beam that is in thine own eye? Thou hypocrite, cast out first the beam out of thine own eye, and then shalt thou see clearly to pull out the mote that is in thy brother's eye.
43. For the good tree bringeth not forth corrupt fruit ; neither doth a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit.
44. For every tree is known by his own fruit. For of thorns men do not gather figs, nor of a bramble bush gather they grapes.
45. A good man out of the good treasure of his heart bringeth forth that which is good ; and an evil man out of the evil treasure of his heart bringeth forth that which is evil; for of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaketh.
46. And why call ye me, Lord, Lord, and do not the things which I say?
1 Ezek. xxxiii. 1-5.
(Matt. vii. 24-27.) 47. Whosoever cometh to me, and heareth my sayings, and doeth them, I will shew you to whom he is like :
48. He is like a man which built an house, and digged deep, and laid the foundation on a rock : and when the flood arose, the stream beat vehemently upon that house, and could not shake it ; for it was founded upon a rock.
49. But he that heareth, and doeth not, is like a man that without a foundation built an house upon the earth ; against which the stream did beat vehemently, and immediately it fell ; and the ruin of that house was great.
In the preceding discourse, Jesus had been giving rules of life and conduct, which showed, that they who were “his disciples indeed,” must be “a peculiar people, zealous of good works.” He well foreknew, how many masters in his school would mislead their scholars : how many hypocrites would be more ready to correct others than themselves : how many trees in his vineyard would bring no fruit to perfection : how many would call him, Lord, Lord, and do not the things which he said. Therefore, he concludes with a solemn contrast between the end of faith merely nominal, and of faith which influences the heart. He declares of the man who calls him, Lord, and does not the things which the Lord says, that great will be the ruin of his soul. But that whosoever cometh unto him, and heareth his sayings and doeth them, has built his house upon a rock which shall never fall.
This conclusion of such a discourse is too important to be passed over. It brings religion to a test: and fixes salvation upon these points—coming to Christ-hearing his sayings—and doing them.
Many, probably, came to him at that time out of curiosity. Many heard him for a while, and then “ walked no more with him.” So, many now profess his religion, merely as belonging to a Christian land. But that coming to Christ, which really lays a sure foundation for the soul, is a deliberate, solemn act, proceeding from a movement of our heart, and induced by a sense that we have spiritual wants which he can alone supply. And whosoever thinks at all, must feel that this is the case with himself. He has need of knowledge: he has need of pardon: he has need of assistance. Without these, all beyond the present world is a dreary blank.
These obvious wants the gospel meets and relieves. It testifies that “ God has given to us eternal life, and this life is in his Son.” “ He that hath the Son, hath life: and he that hath not the Son of God, hath not life.”
Therefore, whoever cometh to Christ, that is, whoever studies his gospel with a desire to learn from it, heareth these sayings. And many stop there: many hear, and do not. The state of numbers in a Christian land, is a state of knowledge and belief, that “God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself;" but a belief which is vague, and a knowledge which is unprofitable, because it never proceeds to a vital application of that truth. We must hear the sayings, and do them. We must close with the offer which they convey, and personally accept Christ Jesus in all his offices ;—as the Prophet who declares the will of God ;-as the Priest who has made the atoning sacrifice ;-as the
Lord who issues statutes, by which his people must be governed: by their observance of which they are known here, and will be judged hereafter.
This is to lay our foundation on a rock. Not to be content that by baptism we were made members of Christ, without being assured of such membership by the testimony of our hearts. Not to be content even with the testimony of the heart, unless our lives agree with it: for the heart is deceitful, and must be tried by the standard of outward and visible obedience: that we “ be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving our own selves.”
And the end of this, says our Lord, is a good hope against the time when the floods shall arise, and the stream beat vehemently against the house. It is hope which is built upon a rock, and cannot be shaken. It may indeed be assaulted ; assaulted by temptations of Satan, assaulted by natural fears. But when your hope is thus threatened, examine and see that all is right with the foundation, and if any part is weakened, correct and strengthen it; and secure the “testimony of your conscience, that in simplicity and godly sincerity you
your conversation in the world;" that “out of the good treasure of the heart you bring forth that which is good :" that you are mortifying those lusts “ which war against the soul :” that “the world is crucified unto you, and you unto the world :” that you “ love not in word, neither in tongue, but in deed and in truth. For hereby we know that we are of the truth, and shall assure our hearts before God. For if our heart condemn us, God is greater than
our heart, and knoweth all things. But if our heart condemn us not, then have we confidence towards God." 2
Our heart, indeed, will be very unfaithful, or very ill instructed in the holiness of the divine law, and the extent of our duty, if it does not warn us, on every examination, of sad omissions and transgressions. To the end, the believers in Christ have to contend against an evil nature, which shows its corruption in various ways : and find daily occasion to lament, that they are not, in temper, in de votedness, in neglect of this world, in love of spiritual things, what they either ought to be, or desire to be. But still they have inward assurance that their heart is set upon the kingdom of God; that their confidence is in Christ; that they are making the will of Christ their rule; that there is nothing in this world which they desire, in comparison of holiness and heaven. They have the character which describes one who builds on a right foundation, They have come to Christ, and heard his sayings, and are doing them. They have applied to him for pardon; applied to him for “grace to help in time of need:” they have received his instructions, and are living by them, and constantly endeavouring to be more faithful, more perfect: they are drinking of “ that spiritual rock which follows them, and that rock is Christ.” Such shall inherit “the end of their faith, the salvation of their souls.”
Be wise, therefore, in time; and now, when the opportunity is granted, BUILD FOR ETERNITY.
2 1 John iii. 19-21.