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same instant of time, when the Holy Ghost forms "Christ in llie heart the hope of glory," that he engraves his likeness there. And when this important change is wrought, the estate and the standing of the man are very different to what they were before. He is no longer considered as " far from God," but being brought nigh "by the blood of Christ," the doctrines of divine truth are exactly suited to his new creation-state in him; and by them he is enlightened to discern his image upon his own mind. The important discovery of this fact by the light of truth also, is an occasion of disclosing the eminency to which he is raised, and the great honour that God has conferred upon him. We may then say, that wherever the image of the divine Saviour is engraven, God looks with special delight and approbation. To wear the image of Christ, is the greatest glory and honour that can be conferred upon any man; but the dignity bestowed so undeservedly upon us is so much the more important, when we consider that endless wrath was all the recipient of this favour deserved at the hands of God for sins committed. The freedom and sovereignty of grace are particularly illustrated in the spiritual conformity of the saints to Christ. Never do we view the perfection of the divine character more to advantage, than when we read the love of God to us in Christ, and the openings of it to us by "making of us meet to be partakers of an inheritance with the saints in light."
Those persons who bear the image of the Redeemer, also possess the same dispositions of mind as those are which he inherits in an unexampled perfection, and an illimitable degree. "How can two walk together except they are agreed?" Picture to yourself a man that professes to be a christian, but who has not "the root of the matter within him," and you will have before your eyes an unhappy man who increases his guilt before God, while he professes to be humbled for his sin. But the mind who is like unto Christ in the disposition and qualities of his mind, is "created in holiness, righteousness, and knowledge ;" so that he is no longer a hater of his Maker, and a violater of his statutes, but he is now affectionately employed in those services that God has commanded him to perform. There is not only a union of interest and design openly professed, but whatever the Redeemer obtained for his people, when he appeared at the bar of justice as their Surety, they being interested in the memorable transactions of that day, that they are taught to ask of God, and to ask it as a reward conferred upon their once crucified Saviour ; and as his design was to " purify unto himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works," so likewise the object which they keep in view when they seek the purchased good is, that they may be thereby fitted to do all the will of God.
In every religious exercise in which the man of God is engaged, this indivisible relation and interest between the head in heaven, and his members upon earth, is peculiarly interesting and profitable. For how can I expect to come to the throne of God with acceptance and delight, unless I look upon the Lord as my friend, and in the bright light of his countenance I have some proof that our interest is one, and that he has graciously made me like unto himself. The most elevated state any creature can be raised to, will never render him independent of his Maker. The saints will always live by reason of union to their Lord. Every favour that God kindly confers upon his necessitous children, proves the greatness of his love to them; and it is a part of that provision that he has made for them in Christ, their head, nor would they possess these rich bounties, if they were not standing in the closest alliance, to the person of the Son of God. All support and strength for duty is derived from Christ, the fertilizing spring of life, activity, and fruitfulness to his brethren. He is described as coming down like rain upon the mown grass, as showers that water the earth. It is quite certain that the given dress of green that adorns our meadows in the spring of the year, arises from the life in the root; it being acted upon by those fixed laws by which God governs every thing which he has made; so also all the fruitfulness and verdure that shed a lustre and glory around the persons of the saints, is to be attributed to that holy agency that is constantly employed in the name of Christ to promote the spirituality of the saints. We should err greatly if we were for a single moment to suppose that we could continue in being without the physical energy of God being exercised in and for us tovprolong our lives. The fallen angels in the world of darkness are continued in existence by the sustaining power of God. It is no injury to a good man that he is entirely dependent upon his kind and bountiful Father, " for all things pertaining to all life and godliness;" but it is a real advantage, forasmuch as the mercy of God fills the mind with admiration, and it lays a foundation for his just praise. God is dealing with his children in every circumstance of life in the most gracious manner: the numerous privations they may endure are painful, but he is taking nothing from them that could be of real service to them. "Better is little with the fear of the Lord, than great treasure and trouble therewith." Real religion, wheresoever it exists, elevates the favoured recipient of it into a dignity of feeling, conception, and action, that often surprises the wise and the great of this world. While the man of God walks through the streets of life, he is supported by the arm of Omnipotence; and as he holds things on the tenure of his Father's will, he is contented with the arrangement of infinite wisdom, and with patience he waits for that day when he shall be perfectly conformed in all things to his holy Head in heaven. Divine decision appears very clearly in the choice of a good man; he is made a willing subject of Christ, and he cheerfully chooses the things which his Father has settled upon him in the heir of all things. Perhaps there is no trait in the christian's character that more fully proves his claim to be a child of God, than the unhesitating compliance with the divine will that daily appears in the true believer's conduct. Has he not established a throne of grace, and in 1 lis holy word given directions to the saints how he will be supplicated for mercy? the good man reads his bible that he may learn how to present his humble suit at the footstool of God. Has God in the person of his Son reconciled the church unto himself? the good man feels the native enmity and plague of his heart, and gladly flies to the shade of Calvary; and while he hears the voice of love calling to him from that holy summit, he feels the living streams of mercy that issue from the heart of the crucified, extended to him, bringing to him as they flow, life, purity, sanctity, pardon, and release from endless captivity. Whatever God has commanded to be done for his glory, that the just man will from the best of principles punctually perform, discarding from his creed and his practice whatever is inconsistent with the legislative authority of God. His own temper will not be the law of his actions either to God or man. Convenience will not be the thing that he will seek after at the ex pence of truth; for if he is to be comfortable, it must be in that way and by those means that will not stain his character, blast his prospects, or damp his joys. He considers his high destiny, and he is disposed to act consistently therewith. Heaven is to be his home, angels and just men made perfect are to be his companions in that blest world of unclouded day : to crown the whole, he is to be blessed with perpetual communion with his kind Redeemer and Lord.
The conduct of the Lord of life and glory practically evinced, will be cheerfully copied by every real christian. Affection will be a prominent feature of his ever'y-day conduct, it cannot be dispensed with by him ; whoever else may be disposed to resign so amiable a line of conduct, he will not, being eminently attached to his holy Lord; for it is impossible that he should be released from his native chains and slavery, and ransomed from the perdition that he deserved to endure, and not be affectionately devoted to the service and interest of his eternal friend. He will keep his eye fixed upon the cross of Christ, and considering that he is to follow his Saviour through much tribulation to his kingdom, you will find him no loiterer in the vineyard. He has a great deal to do; many adversaries to encounter, and he well knows that if he is off his watch-tower, the devil will be sure to take advantage of it, and if possible to trip up his heels. Such a man will find it his interest and his happiness to present all his services at the altar of God, clad in the righteousness of Christ; and blessed with freedom, he will recommend the religion he professes by being publicly set apart as a vessel of mercy meet for the master's use. While he is thus active and wise in his conduct, he will not make his performances the ground of his confidence before God, no; but they will publicly exhibit the excellency of that religion that is founded in the perfections and will of God, established in the person, and opened through the work of Christ, and made known to him by the Holy Ghost. There being a trinity of forms whereby the love of God is made known and felt, he knows that he can add nothing to that, that has all the excellency and divinity of the person and the character of the Son of God stamped upon it.
Having thus far traced the christian character in the formation, we shall close this essay by referring to another feature of it. The christian is truly decided for God: you will not find him a flexible creature, changing like a weathercock. Every christian is not alike decided for God, no; but the general tenor of a good man commands the religion that he voluntarily professes. It may and it will occur that his decision will be put to the test, but what of that? The excellency of the principle pf christianity will be proved in the hour of extreme danger. The enemies of christianity will be frequently defeated by the lovely temper the christian evinces, although they will still retain their enmity against the truth. Besides this, when we are called to vindicate the truth, it will be an occasion to confirm our minds in the belief of the cause that we have espoused. And if any thing done in defence of the gospel will be the means to sharpen our appetite for truth, and brighten and extend our prospects, although it may cost us momentary pain, the recompence being so great, we should not repine at the sufferings we endure. Decision upon all occasions, and at all times, will induce those persons to respect us, who do not love our principles; and it is no small thing to pass through time so as not to give offence " to the Jew, the Gentile, nor the church of God." He who is addicted to wavering will not be respected by any party, religious or irreligious. The former would suffer much by associating with such a character, and the latter will be suspicious that he has put on the cloak of religion for sinister purposes. Be firm, then, my brethren, for truth, in every trying circumstance, and never be afraid to wear your character at all times, and in all places, that you may be known to be the Lord's.
Assurance is a certain sweet and blessed motion of the soul, steadily and firmly resting upon the faithfulness and mercy of God, through the merits and sufferings of Christ, with an unshaken expectation of all that is promised in the scriptures. It is also a victorious conclusion against the strength of doubting, whereby the mind of a believer is fully persuaded, and upon good grounds settled, of his personal interest in all that Christ has done and suffered ; being fully evidenced in his own soul of his union to Christ before all worlds, and made known to him in time by the enlightening influences of the Eternal Spirit, making him a new creature in Christ Jesus. Yea, this assurance conquers doubtings, clears the evidences in the soul; and the child of God indulged with this strong faith, can withstand the temptations of the enemy, by being graciously helped to resist him in the strength of his divine Lord.—It is deeply to be lamented that so few of God's children enjoy this great and unspeakable blessing.
Vol. VII.—No. 74. E
The Christian Student: designed to assist Christians in general, in acquiring knowledge, with lists of Boohs adapted to the various classes of Society. By the Rev. E. Bickersteth, 1 Qmo. p.p. 661. Seeley.
However much we may deplore the low state of real vital godliness in the present times, we must admit that there never was a period in the history of the church, when moral light was more widely diffused ; and while we would pray the Lord the Spirit to descend with his fructifying influences on our languid churches, we would rejoice in all the means used for the promulgation of religious knowledge.
Mr. Bickersteth has, in the volume before us, classed his observations under different heads, and has shown with much judgment the advantages arising from studying theology ;—its usefulness to christians in general;—the influence of practical holiness in theological studies;—the divine teaching which God has promised ;—the study of the scriptures, practical and controversial works, with rules for study, and advice to a student on entering the university; —outline sketch of the fathers, reformers, and early divines, with a glance at modern writers. In the twelfth chapter, referring to the decline of truth, is the following excellent observation :—
"With what extreme difficulty has that blessed doctrine, justification by faith only, been preserved from age to age unimpaired, and in its purity! One would have thought, that after the reformation, the protestant churches could hardly again have almost lost a doctrine which was then so fully established, and so distinctly and clearly embodied in their confessions. But it is one very opposed to our darkened understanding, and it can only be adequately understood and valued in the humbling school of christian experience. Many too, doubtless, hold it substantially, who do not hold it in theory, or expression. May christians ever have a jealous care over this jewel of the gospel of Christ. Experience has shown that this is ' a most wholesome doctrine,' as well as ' very full of comfort.' The suspicions of the natural understanding are proved to be groundless by the history of the church. Bishop Horsley, in his first charge, observes, 'that man is justified by faith without the works of the law, was the uniform doctrine of our first reformers. It is a far more ancient doctrine—it was the doctrine of the whole college of apostles: it is more ancient still, it was the doctrine of the prophets: it is older than the prophets—it was the religion of the patriarchs, and no one who has the least acquaintance with the writings of the first reformers will impute to them more than to the patriarchs, the prophets, or apostles, the absurd opinion, that any man leading an impenitent wicked life will finally, upon the mere pretence of faith, (and faith connected with an impenitent life must always be a mere pretence) obtain admission into heaven.'"
We transcribe another extract from the same chapter:—
"We have had painful occasion to see that many have admitted right
sentiments, who do not, as far as man can judge, live under the personal
experience and enjoyment of those sentiments. Without noticing unworthy
motives, we may in many cases believe that their real learning, their candour