« AnteriorContinuar »
poor ignorant souls labour for very vanity in fasting, praying, penances, &c. &c., while they forget Christ. Equally wrong is their notion who think they must be indebted to Christ for pardon, but to their own good endeavours for holiness; the language of the true Christian is, “ Surely in the Lord Jesus have I righteousness and strength.'
Know, therefore, my friends, that as the sin of our nature was derived to us from Adam, the first man, so all the holiness of our new nature must be derived to us from Jesus Christ, the second Adam ; that “ we have borne the image of the earthly, we may also bear the image of the heavenly.” Now, blessed be God, there is a fulness of grace in Christ, for his whole church; of which church are we, if enabled by faith to receive Christ, and out of his fulness receive
grace. Faith is that grace which God has appointed as the means of our becoming holy. People have a very wrong notion of faith, who think it an enemy to holiness, or good works. If we look into the Scripture, we shall find that the hearts of the vilest heathens were purified by faith in Christ,” Acts xv. 9; and “ sanctified by faith,” Acts xxvi. 18. -The faith that brings the convinced sinner to Christ for salvation, receives from him, as it were, pardon with one hand, and holiness with the other; both being equally the design of Christ in his mediatorial work, and equally the desire of every new-born soul.
Observe, likewise, that the comforts of the gospel, such as assurance of God's love and pardon of our sins, peace of conscience, joy in the Holy Ghost, and the hope of glory, have a wonderful tendency to pro
holiness. For the same purpose we must diligently read our Bibles, frequently hear the preached gospel, and especially abound in prayer. These are properly called Means of grace; and though they have no power in themselves to make us holy, yet are they appointed of God for our use; he has graciously promised to bless them; and in the diligent use of them, every grace of the Spirit is exercised, and by exercise increased. Thus a sense of the evil of sin, and of the beauty of holiness, is kept up; and thus especially are our souls led out of themselves, in direct acts of faith, to Jesus; and so enabled to receive daily supplies of grace for our growth in holiness, even "grace for grace."
And is this holiness? Oh, my friends, where is it to be found? Oh, how little is it to be seen in our world! Yet this is indeed that image of God in which every true Christian is renewed, and without which a person is yet in his sins, and, dying so, must perish for ever.
And does not this alarm the careless sinner, who daily indulges the love and practice of sin ? Say, dying fellow-creature, is not thy heart as far from this holiness as east is from west ? You know it is. And what must be the consequence? Dost thou not believe the God of truth, that this unholiness must shut thee out of heaven? Has it not been clearly proved that such as you cannot be admitted there? Your own heart allows that it is. impossible.
But surely you are not willing matters should remain thus. Does a desire arise in your heart, Oh, that I were holy! Well, blessed be God for such a desire. Know, my friends, that all are alike by nature. If any here are made holy, sovereign grace made them 80. Do you begin to cry, What must I do? We answer, first look at Christ for the pardon of your sins; and then, for the purity of your heart. You must not first strive to make yourselves better, and then think you may come to him with better hope of salvation; but come now, come just as you are, and the friend of sinners will receive you.
The same direction may be useful to those who are seeking the kingdom of God and his righteousness; who mourn over remaining corruption, and long for the image of God. Look to Jesus for it. Remember that, by virtue of union to Christ, you may, by faith, derive daily grace from him, through the power of the Holy Spirit. “Without him you can do nothing :” but “his grace is sufficient" for all things. In the exercise of constant faith, and in the diligent use of all appointed means, expect the supplies of the Spirit; believing, assuredly, that he who has begun the good work in you, will carry it on, till you are made meet for the heavenly inheritance.
HEBREWS ix. 27. It is appointed unto men once to die, but after this
he ordered one of his pages to come every morning to his chamber-door, and cry aloud Philip, remember thou art mortal!” How much the conduct of this heathen prince shames numbers of people called Christians ;-who, instead of keeping their mortality in mind, do all in their power to forget it. This discourse is intended to call your serious attention to what so much concerns you. Like Moses, therefore, we say, “O that you were wise, that you understood this, that you would consider your latter end! May you be led to pray,
“ So teach us to number our days, that we may apply our hearts unto wisdom!"
Our first business at this time is with DEATH. There is something solemn in the very name; but O, who can tell what death is? None of our relations or neighbours return from the grave to inform us; we must learn its nature, its cause, and its consequences, from the faithful word of God. We may indeed see something of death in our dying friends. We may see the hasty progress of some fatal disease. The pains, the groans, the agonies, of the dying, we have observed. We have seen many a man cut down in the midst of life: hearty, strong, and cheerful, one week; the next a pale, cold, lifeless corpse, lying in his coffin, and carried
to the church-yard.-Others we have seen or heard of, cut off without a moment's warning; perfectly well one moment, the next in eternity. How true is the Scripture, “ All flesh is grass, and the goodliness thereof as the flower of the field; in the morning it flourisheth, in the evening it is cut down and withered.” How frail is man! At “his best estate he is altogether vanity." He is crushed sooner than the moth.
What awful Separations does Death make! It removes us at once from our nearest relations and dearest friends. We shut our eyes to all the world;
we shall see man no more in the land of the living." Death puts a sudden period to all our · projects, good or bad; “in that very day our thoughts perish.” It deprives the great of all their pomp and power; and the rich of all their possessions; for man “bringeth nothing with him into this world, and it is certain he can carry nothing out.”
Death is universal. Other evils are partial. But all men die; “ for what man is he that liveth, and shall not see death ?" Death has reigned in all ages; and though in early times some men lived many hundred years, yet they all died at last. Death reigns in all countries : as certainly as the tide ebbs and flows, so “one generation passeth away, and another cometh." « This is the way of all Aesh.” “ The grave is the house appointed for all living."“There is no discharge in this war."-“We must needs die.”
Death is in itself awful! The fear of death; the agonies of death ; the ghastly appearance of the dead; the sad change that takes place in"the body, which renders it offensive, and obliges us to bury it out of our sight; the coffin, the shroud, the cold grave, the crawling worms, the sordid dust-all these are terrible things to nature.