Imágenes de páginas
[blocks in formation]

If there is one consideration more humbling than another to a spiritually-minded believer, it is, that, after all God has done for him,—after all the rich displays of his grace, the patience and tenderness of his instructions, the repeated discipline of his covenant, the tokens of love received, and the lessons of experience learned, there should still exist in the heart a principle, the tendency of which is to secret, perpetual, and alarming departure from God! Truly, there is in this solemn fact, that which might well lead to the deepest self-abasement before Him.

If, in the present early stage of our inquiry into this subject, we might be permitted to assign a cause for the growing power, which this latent, subtle principle is allowed to exert in the soul, we would refer to the believer's constant forgetsulness of the truth, that there is no essential element in divine grace that ~ can secure it from the deepest declension; that, if left to its self-sustaining energy, such are the hostile influences by which it is surrounded, such the severe assaults to which it is exposed, and such the feeble resistance it is capable of exerting, there is not a moment-splendid though its former victories may

[ocr errors]

have been--in which the incipient and secret progress of declension may not have commenced and be going forward in the soul! There is a proneness in us to deify the graces of the Spirit. We often think of faith and love, and their kindred graces, as though they were essentially omnipotent; forgetting that though they undoubtedly are divine in their origin, spiritual in their nature, and sanctifying in their effects, they yet are sustained by no self-supporting power, but by constant communications of life and nourishment from Jesus ; that, the moment of their being left to their inherent strength, is the moment of their certain declension and decay.

We must here, however, guard a precious and important truth; viz., the indestructible nature of true grace. Divine grace

in the soul can never really die; true faith can never utterly and finally fail. We are speaking now but of their decay. A flower may droop, and yet live; a plant may be sickly, and

In the lowest stage of spiritual declension, in the feeblest state of grace,

there is a life that never dies. In the midst of all his startlings aside, the ebb and the flow, the wandering and the restoring, the believer in Jesus is “ kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation." He cannot utterly fall; he cannot finally be lost. The immutability of God keeps him,--the covenant of grace keeps him,-the finished work of Jesus keeps him, -the indwelling of the Spirit keeps him, and keeps him to eternal glory. We say, then, true grace is indestructible grace;

it can never die. But it may decay ; and to the consideration of this solemn and

yet not die.

important subject, the reader's serious attention is now invited. We propose to exhibit the subject of Personal Declension of Religion in the Soul in some of its varied and prominent forms and phases, and to direct to those means which God has ordained and blessed to its restoration and revival.

Believing, as we do, that no child of God ever recedes into a state of inward declension and outward backsliding, but by slow and gradual steps; and believing, too, that a process of spiritual decay may be going forward within the secret recesses of the soul, and not a suspicion or a fear be awakened in the mind of the believer ; we feel it of the deepest moment that this state should first be brought to view in its incipient and concealed form. May the Lord the Spirit fill the writer and the reader's mind with light, the heart with lowliness, and raise and fix the eye of faith simply and solely upon Jesus, as we proceed in the unfolding of a theme so purely spiritual and so deeply heart-searching!

We commence with a brief exposition of a doctrine which must be regarded as forming the groundwork of our subject; viz., THE LIFE OF GOD IN

The believer in Jesus is a partaker of the divine nature. 2 Pet. i. 4. He is born of the Spirit ;" Christ dwelleth in him by faith ; and this constitutes his new and spiritual life. A single but emphatic expression of the apostle's, unfolds the doctrine and confifms the fact, “ Christ in you." Col. i. 27. It is not so much that the believer lives, as that Christ lives in him. Thus the apostle expresses it : “I am crucified with Christ : neverthe


less I live ; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me." Do we look at the history of Paul as illustrative of the doctrine ? Behold the grand secret of his extraordinary life. He lived unreservedly for Christ; and the spring of it was, Christ lived spiritually in him. This it was that rendered him so profound in wisdom, rich in knowledge, bold in preaching, undaunted in zeal, unwearied in toil, patient in suffering, and successful in labor ;-Christ lived in him. And this forms the high and holy life of every child of God ;“ Christ who is our life.” To him, as the covenant, head and mediator of his people, it was given to have life in himself, that he might give eternal life to as many as the Father had given him. Christ possesses this life, (John v. 26 ;) Christ communicates it, (John v. 25;) Christ sustains it, (John vi. 57 ;) and Christ crowns it with eternal glory, (John xvii. 24.)

A peculiar characteristic of the life of God in the soul, is, that it is concealed. 66 Your life is hid with Christ in God.” It is a hidden life. Its nature, its source, its actings, its supports, are veiled from the observation of men. 66 The world knoweth us not.” It knew not Jesus when he dwelt in the flesh, else it would not have crucified the Lord of life and glory. Is it any wonder that it knows him not, dwelling, still deeper veiled, in the hearts of his members ? It crucified Christ in his own person, it has crucified him in the persons of his saints, and, if power were given, would so crucify him yet again. And yet there is that in the divine life of the believer, which awakens the wonderment of a Christ-rejecting world.

That the believer should be unknown, and yet well known; should die, and yet live; should be chastened, and yet not killed; sorrowful, yet always rejoicing; poor, yet making many rich; having nothing, and yet possessing all things, is indeed an enigma—a paradox to a carnal mind. Yea, there are moments when the believer is a mystery to himself. How the divine life in his soul is sustained in the midst of so much that enfeebles, kept alive surrounded by so much that deadens, the glimmering spark not extinguished, though obscured, amid the billows; to drop all figure,-how the soul advances when most opposed, soars when most burdened, rejoices when most afflicted, and sings the sweetest and the loudest, when the cross presses the heaviest, and the thorn pierces the deepest, may well cause him to exclaim," I am a wonder to others, but a greater wonder to myself!" But, if the nature and the supports of the divine life in the soul are hid, not so are its effects, and these prove its existence and reality. The world has its keen, detecting eye upon the believer. It marks well his every step, it ponders narrowly his every going, it investigates and analyses closely his secret motives. No flaw, no deviation, no compromise, escapes its notice or its censure: it expects, and it has a right to expect, perfect harmony of principle and practice ; it rebukes, and it has a right to rebuke, any marked discrepancy between the two. We say, then, that the effects of the life of God in the soul of the believer are observed by an ungodly world. There is that in the honest upright walk of a child of God, which arrests the attention and

« AnteriorContinuar »