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in heaven. Will you banish him from home? His country is above. Will you bind him in chains ? His conscience, his spirit, his affections, are all free. Will you destroy his body ? His body shall be raised incorruptable at the last day, and his spirit will immediately return to God, who gave it. Heaven itself is but an emblem of his happiness. As heaven is enlightened by the rising sun, his soul is illuminated by the sun of righteousness, which rises without setting in his heart. As heaven is intrinsically bright and beautiful, though clouds obscure, and midnight darkness surround it, he is peaceful, happy, and serene in the midst of trials and afflictions. “As heaven is exalted above the storms and tempest of this lower atmosphere, he is elevated above the distractions of this troublesome world. He is a Christian ; his conversation is in heaven; his life is hid with Christ, in God.
It is admitted that such a Christian has sorrow; but bis sorrow is sweeter than the joy of the world. Every trial, every affliction, draws bim nearer to his God. In the tumults of life, in the secrecy of his chamber, in the silence of midnight, he has a resource of which the world is ignorant. He pours forth his fears, his apprehensions, his troubles, into the bosom of his Maker. Suffering thus becomes a fountain of delight; for it is felt to be a source of spiritual improvement. Thus it is, that all things work together, not only for good, but also for enjoyment, to them that love God. Thus it is, that if they sow in tears, they reap in joy. Far different from this is the joy of the wicked. His joy is a malignant passion, excited by the temporary success of some of his devices. Folly is joy to him that is destitute of wisdom ; but the triumph of the wicked is short, and the joy of the hypocrite is but for a moment ; God is not in all their thoughts. Therefore they say unto God, Depart from us, for we desire not the knowledge of thy ways. What is the Almighty, that we should serve him? What profit should we have, if we should pray unto him?
But it is in the prospects of futurity, especially, that the happy effects of Christianity upon the human heart are peculiarly felt and displayed. The hour of death must, unavoidably, come to every individual of the human family. In that awful moment, when the soul is floating upon the confines of the two worlds, suffering the agony of bodily torture ; when friends and relatives are expressing, by their agonizing looks, what they are afraid to utter; when medicines and pains are racking the debilitated frame; when the cold chills of death are felt passing all through the system; how glorious are the Christian's views of the eternal world. The time has arrived when the upright judge comes to strike off the chains of mortality, to free him from that earth where he has so long been a stranger and a captive, and to deliver him from all the sorrows, trials, and tribulations of this transitory life. He comes to conduct him, in peace and safety, through the dark valley of the shadow of death, and to introduce him into the kingdom of light and glory
above. What blessed tidings of joy and immortality to this righteous soul! What a blessed prospect! With what peace, what confidence, what thanksgivings, does he accept it! He rises like Simeon of old, his dying eyes to heaven, and beholding the approach of the Lord, exclaims: Break, O my God! when thou pleasest, these remains of mortality, these feeble ties which still keep me here, I wait in peace and hope, the effects of thine eternal promises. From the promise of his Creator "he learns that his body, sown here in corruption, weakness, and dishonor, shall be raised, beyond the grave, in incorruption, power, and glory, with so many attributes of spirit, as to be denominated by him who made it, a spiritual body. Ever young, active, and undecaying, it shall be re-united to the im mortal mind, purified from every stain and every error. This perfect man shall be admitted, with an open and abundant entrance; into the heaven of heavens, the peculiar residence of the Infinite Majesty, and the chosen seat of intinite dominion. In this noblest of all habitations, the mansion of everlasting joy, he shall be united with an innumerable multitude of companions like himself, sanctified, immortal, and happy. Enrolled among the noblest and best of beings in the universe, a child, a priest, a king, in the house of his heavenly Father, his endless and only destination will be, to know, love, serve, and enjoy God; to interchange the best affections and the best offices with his glorious companions, and to advance in wisdom, virtue, and happiness, for ever and ever. Cheered and animated by these promises, the Christian endures hardness as a good soldier of Jesus Christ, through all the labors and toils of life ; and when the messenger of death comes to relieve him from the present scene of suffering affliction, in the sweet composure of
triumphant faith, he adopts the elevated strains of the poet:-
This is no ideal picture. Hopes and consolations like these, have, we every age of Christianity, supported the minds of millions of believers, in the humble and retired walks of life, as well as in exalted stations. But these hopes and consolations are only acquired by religious experience. A heart ignorant of Christian experience knows nothing of communion with God, or of the hope and joy
inspired by the gospel. If the heart has never been touched by on the power of truth-if the soul has never been warmed by a celes
tial fire, nor the conscience purified from the dross of sin, a proSession of religion is but an empty show; we are as sounding brass, From the foregoing remarks, we are led to the conclusion, that
or a tinkling cymbal.
all true Christians are experimental Christians. There are in this, as in former ages of the gospel, false disciples, mere nominal Christians, who have a form of godliness, but are destitute of that power which purifies the heart, regulates the life, and overcomes the world. Such persons, however, are not regarded as the devout worshippers of God, or the true followers of Jesus Christ, and we are, accordingly, commanded to turn away from them. He is a Jew who is one inwardly, and circumcision is that of the heart; in the spirit, and not in the letter; whose praise is not of men, but of God.
Finally, the proper use of correct sentiments, and a right state of feeling in the heart, are to regulate our conduct. When, therefore, we are convinced that there is a God who has a right to all the love of our hearts, and to all the service of our lives, we should then enter into his service by a regular and uniform course of obedience to all of his requirements. Jesus Christ came into the world that he might purify unto himself a peculiar people zealous of good works. Hence his disciples are styled in the Scriptures, a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a peculiar people ; 'that they might show forth the praises of him who hath called them out of darkness into his marvellous light. The power of Christianity is exerted, not only in changing the heart, and plucking up the roots of bitterness which pollute the soul, but also in forming the character to piety and virtue. The first converts to Christianity were reformed characters. This is affirmed by the Apostle Paul in his Epistle to the Romans. What fruit, says he, had ye then in those things whereof ye are now ashamed? for the end of these things is death. But now being made free from sin, and become the servants of God, ye have your fruits unto holiness, and the end everlasting life. This same apostle, in his Epistle to the Corinthians, also asserts that some of them were reclaimed from sin by the gospel : Be ye not deceived ; neither fornicators, nor adulterers, nor idolators, nor effeminate persons, nor abusers of themselves with mankind, nor thieves, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners, shall inherit the kingdom of God. And such were some of you ; but ye are washed, ye are sanctified in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the spirit of our God. Peter, in the following passage, alludes to the reformation wrought among the Jewish converts in Pontus, Galatia, and in other places :—The time past of your lives may suffice us to have wrought the will of the Gentiles, when we walked in lasciviousness, lust, and excess of wines, reveling, banqueting, and abominable idolatries, wherein they think it strange that ye run not with them to the same excess of riot.
Origen, who flourished about A. D. 246, speaking of the efficacy of the gospel in forming the character of a wicked man to piety and virtue, remarks: “Give me a man who is choleric, abusive in his language, headstrong and unruly; with a very few words—the words of God I will render him as gentle as a lamb. Give me a
greedy, covetous, parsimonious man; and I will presently return him to you a generous creature, freely bestowing his money by handsful. Give me a cruel and blood-thirsty man; instantly his ferocity shall be transformed into truly a mild and merciful disposition. Give me an unjust man, a foolish man, a sinful man; and on a sudden he shall become honest, and wise, and virtuous. So great is the efficacy of divine wisdom, that when once admitted into the human heart, it expels folly, the parent of all vices; and, in accomplishing this great end, there is no occasion of any great expense, no absolute need of books, or deep or long study or meditation. The benefit is conferred gratuitously, easily, and expeditiously; provided the ears and heart thirst after wisdom.” And such, indeed, were the effects of Christianity, as displayed in the conversion of the first Christians, in the early ages of the gospel. "Inquire,” says Origen again, "into the lives of some of us; compare our former and present mode of life; and you will find in what impurities and impieties men were involved, before they embraced our doctrines. But since they embraced them, how just, grave, moderate, and constant, are they become: yea, some are so inflamed with the love of purity and goodness, as to abstain from lawful enjoyments. The church abounds with such men, wherever the doctrines of Christianity prevail; men who have been converted from the sink of vice, to the practice of virtue and a life of temperance, conformable to the dictates of right reason."
That the practice of good works, and a holy and religious life, is the principal end proposed by the gospel, and the principal character of the Christian, is clearly stated in the Scriptures. This is a faithful saying, and these things I will that thou affirm constantly, that they which have believed in God be careful to maintain good works. The grace of God that bringeth salvation, hath appeared unto all men, teaching us, that, denying ungodliness and worldly lust, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present evil world. The same apostle elsewhere, distinguishing true from false professors, says: For many walk of whom I have told you often, and now tell you even weeping, that they are enemies of the cross of Christ, whose end is destruction, whose god is their belly, and who glory in their shame, who mind earthly things; but our conversation is in heaven, from whence also we look for the Saviour, the Lord Jesus. We are his workmanship, says the same apostle, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them. The sixth chapter of Romans asserts, in the most unequivocal language, that the true end of the doctrine of grace is to sanctify men. What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin, that grace may abound? God forbid ! How shall we, that are dead to sin, live any longer therein? Know ye not, that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ, were baptized into his death? Therefore, we are buried with him by baptism into death, that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by
the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life. The apostle, in his Epistle to the Galatians, having strongly defended that gospel liberty which Jesus Christ has acquired, by his blood, for us, prevents an abuse which might be made of it, by adding: Brethren, ye have been called unto liberty, only use not your liberty for an occasion to the flesh. Walk in the spirit, and ye shall not fulfil the lusts of the flesh; for the flesh lusteth against the spirit, and the spirit against the flesh; and these are contrary the one to the other. Now the works of the flesh are these : adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness, idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulation, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies, envyings, murders, drunkenness, revelling, and such like ; of the which I tell you before, as I also have told you in time past, that they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God. But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, long-suffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance; against such there is no law. And they that are Christ's have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts. Our Lord enforces the same doctrine, in these divine and admirable words: Let your light so shine before men, that, seeing your good works, they may glorify your Father which is in heaven.
It is the uniform testimony of the gospel, that the principal end of Christ's coming upon the earth, was to destroy sin. Is it, indeed, likely, that Jesus Christ would have quitted his mansion of glory, and descended to this earth, to acquire an impunity for criminals, leaving them immersed in sensuality and sin? Is it reasonable that he will hold communion with people in rebellion and profaneness? Is it possible for him, the holy, the immaculate Jesus, to join his spirit to our flesh, his purity to our profanity, his holiness to our iniquities? This would be saying, that he came to unite things the most opposite, and which are naturally and essentially incompatible. One of the most embittered enemies of the gospel reproached the primitive Christians, that their Jesus came into the world to make the most horrible and dreadful societies: "For,” said he," he calls sinners, and not the righteous; so that the body he came to assemble, is a body of profligates, separated from good people, amongst whom they were before mixed. He has rejected all the good, and collected all the bad in the world.” What a false and cruel accusation. Origen replied to this charge, in the following appropriate and pungent language: " True," said he, “qur Jesus came io call sinners ; but it was to repentance : he assembled the wicked; but it was to convert them into new men, or rather, it was to change them into angels. We come to him covetous, he makes us liberal; umjust and extortioners, and he makes us equitable; lascivious, and he makes us chaste; violent and passionate, and he makes us meek ; impious and profane, and he makes us religious." This is the true effect of communion with Jesus Christ : it transforms the heart into his image; and this transformation is so essential to the Christian character, that, if it does not appear