« AnteriorContinuar »
until he is fitted by the great Promiser to receive them.
In order to know what is needful to make a Christian indeed, it would be well for every one to read, with serious attention, Christ's sermon on the mount, and while reading, bear in mind the infallible preacher; he may be assured that every word in that sermon is a standing truth, and no sentence therein without its full signification. I, for one, believe, that no man ever preached such a sermon; and also that no man can improve it, by aiming to explain it. Every sentence is full and conclusive to a true traveller Sion-ward, if he reads with his mind turned to the teachings of the Spirit, unclothed of all prepossessions, springing from opinions formed by himself, or taught of
The reading of the Scriptures, free from these strong resisting things, and with a hunger and thirst after the righteousness therein testified of, joined to a humble petition to the author of all inspiration, is the most safe and certain guide to the unfolding of truth in its primitive purity, and fixing it on the mind, with the seal of approbation with him, who ever was, and ever will be, “p the way, the truth, and the life.” I therefore long that we may all know a coming to the Father by him, and partaking of his fulness, 4 that thereby we may be living branches on the vine, and abide therein, and bring forth much fruit; that his heavenly Father may purge us, to bring forth more fruit, to the glorifying of his great name, through his people, by shewing forth his power. By that may they be enabled to keep the holy precepts contained in the sermon on the mount, and thereby it will be made manifest how far the gospel profession excels that of the law, by its giving better precepts, and power to fulfil. So may the world believe, that the Father sent the Son,' and that we have received him, and that he hath given us power to become the sons of God.
p Jolin xiv. 6.
9 John xv. 5.
And now, to conclude on this head, relating to our dear Lord and Saviour's precepts in that excellent sermon, as well as to the attainments of the different states of mind to which the blessings pronounced in the first part of it belong. I believe that our Saviour, never, either there or elsewhere, proposed a blessing to any state which he would not give power to attain ; and I therefore believe, that a man who is an established believer in the faith, may receive power from the great object of his faith, to become pure in heart, and receive the blessing that Christ attached thereto; and, in like manner, be made fit to be an inheritor of the other blessings therein specified.
By the same rule, I likewise believe, that a believer is called upon to use all diligence, to watch and pray that he enter not into temptation to,
John i. 12.
think that he hath latitude, under the gospel dispensation, to break even one of the least of the moral obligations contained in the law, or to teach men so, seeing that Christ hath 'placed such far below them that do and teach them.
I therefore conceive, as our dear Lord and Saviour saw meet to refer to these holy commandments, and to carry his own holy precepts far beyond them ; in some instances, to bring guilt even on the entertainer of thoughts, which give birth to the acts forbidden to be done in the former commandments; I doubt not, that this great Captain of our salvation set these things before us to fix on our minds the insufficiency of our power to live up to these holy precepts, without looking and trusting in him 'in whom is everlasting strength. Therefore he saith, “ • If thine eye be single thy whole body shall be full of light.” And I believe, as we are thus brought to have our senses exercised, we discern betwixt good and evil, and are also taught how to cleave to the good, and abhor the evil.
In short, I believe that the Saviour of the world never laid down any precept or rule for a Christian, without, at the same time, implying that he would give to all who received him, and continued in his word, the power to perform it ; and, at the same time, would teach the poor creature to know, that all the glory and praise belong to him, and nothing to self, but shame and confusion of face.
• Matt. v. 19.
+ Isa. xxvi. 4.
u Matt. vi. 22.
I hope that every one who may read this will lay aside all prepossessions founded on outward profession; and then, I believe, they will find little to cavil at in my unpolished and unstudied address. They will, I believe, find little that is not supported by plain Scripture proof. I wish them to know, that I have been led to the work by feelings of love towards them, and, as I trust, by a desire to promote the cause of truth, and to plead for that glorious Saviour, whom we all profess; by a desire that we may behold him in all his perfections; that we may all become one in him, according to his holy prayer, Christ in us, and God in him, that we may thereby be made perfect in one, by the operation of the Spirit, in us and through us. Here is a high state of perfection, prayed for by the great Head of the church, whose words are all truth and verity: and the way in which it is to be brought about is plainly stated, as follows: “y Neither pray I for these alone, but for them also which shall believe on me through their word; that they all may be one, as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us; that the world
may believe that thou hast sent me."
The end therefore of all the great work of regeneration, and the perfecting of the saints is attained, when this union and communion is established ; and, moreover, it is evident, that what Christ prayed for was possible to be accomplished in this life, and, when accomplished, a powerful testimony of the power of truth to the world; or Christ would not have said, “ that the world may believe that thou hast sent me."
* John xvii. 23.
y John xvii. 20.
I am not a lover of argument on these high points; but I dare 'not deny such plain words spoken by the Lord. And, I believe, that those who have built up strong reasoning bulwarks against them, have blended two things together, and have thus confounded the subject in question; supposing that the advocates for Christian perfection conceive it to be in themselves, by previous attainments. On the other hand, many young converts to the other side of the question, have, in the fervour of the morning, espoused the cause of Christian perfection, being but little aware of the day of battle, which was yet to
Like young men in the ardour of youth, they have made free with the strength received, and, while arguing for perfection, have missed the way by which it is to be attained. No other way can any one find; and this is in Scripture called “+ the way of holiness," which is cast up for the redeemed and ransomed of the Lord to walk in. Therefore, ye ransomed and redeemed, who seem so confident that you are come to
? Isaiah xxxv. S.