« PreviousContinue »
actual experience of salvation. It is He who applies to us the spiritual blessings purchased by Christ; it is He who admits us into the present use and enjoyment of that salvation, of which Christ's merits are the purchasemoney.
“IT IS GIVEN to you to believe on Him," says the Apostle, in chap. i. 29. And taking that statement in connexion with the fuller statement contained in my text, you learn that it is through the gift of God, as well as in obedience to His commandments, that you begin the life of faith, and that you continue to live by faith on the Son of God.
Let me mention some details of God's work.
1. God undertakes to maintain and perpetulate that great change of heart which is called “ conversion.”
Conversion is the work of creating power; and there is but one Creator, one God; therefore it is the work of God. The surprising fact, that a sinner has been converted, can be explained only by declaring that the hand of the Creator has made the change. “If any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old
things are passed away ; behold, all things are become new. And all things are of God."* A sinner's going to Christ for pardon and salvation, is the first convincing evidence that God has actually been at work in his soul. His taking refuge in the new hope is the first act of the new life. All good works must be dated as following that first act; holiness becoming habitual as that first act ripens into a habit. God promises to perform that good work which he has begun, so that we may not only make a good outset, but that we may
walk in newness of life." These new principles and habits are called in Scripture " the
a new heart and life CREATED after God's image.t So the experience of the Apostles and early Christians was, “The inward man is renewed day by day.”! This is the Holy Spirit's daily and hourly work in maturing and perpetuating conversion; and thus the covenant God does His part.
2. God undertakes to put within us Scriptural and heartfelt conviction, that we may be
* 2 Cor. v. 17, 18.
+ Eph. iv. 24. I 2 Cor. iv. 16.
"filled with the knowledge of His will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding."*:
It is His part to convince us of our need of God's teaching-our immeasurable need of spiritual instruction. It is God our Redeemer who teaches us to profit. It is not until He opens our understandings, that Scriptural truth comes home to us with the force of practical conviction. In the words of the Apostle, “Who, then, is Paul, and who is Apollos, but ministers by whom ye believed, even as the Lord gave to every man?" (i. e. to each believer individually). "I have planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the increase. So, then, neither is he that planteth anything, nor he that watereth, but God that giveth the increase." I Scriptural conviction does not merely take hold of the understanding, but it impresses the heart. It is God only who can make a saving impression on the heart. It is He who directs the heart into the love of God and the patient waiting for Christ. It is a sign that God has not been at work in the soul, when the heart is unimpressed, however correctly opinions may be expressed and argued out. Then alone our hearts are impressed when “the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given to us."*
* Col. i. 9.
+ 1 Cor, iii. 5-7. 2 Thess, iii, 5.
3. God undertakes to give us the tastes and the tone of His redeemed family.
Though conversion and the influences of God's love may be said to include this other gift, still it should be mentioned as worthy of distinct attention. How unhappy your life would be, even in the society of heaven, if your tastes were different from heaven's peculiar people ! and, by nature, there is a vast difference between their tastes and yours. How disagreeable would heavenly converse be to you,
disliked its tone; as you do, if you do not take pleasure in the worship, and service, and contemplation of God, and especially if you have an ill-concealed distaste for the holy rest and tone of the Sabbath-day. But Almighty God will secure the fulfilment of His intention in the salvation of souls predestinated to be conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the first-born among many brethren.">
* Rom. v. 5.
In the view of heavenly glory, even a man of God cried out, “ Woe is me! for I am undone, for I am a man of unclean lips.” But God sent a live coal from the altar to be laid upon His servant's lips, as an emblem that God had undertaken to purify his tastes and his tone of converse. The ministering spirit said, “Lo! this hath touched thy lips, and thine iniquity is taken away, and thy sin is purged." You,' my brethren, are to learn from these words that God does engage to do the same for His servants now. His part is to give to the whole soul meetness for enjoying His presence, and for adorning His many mansions in reality and to eternity.
4. God undertakes to yive strength for the doing of His will.
He calls to no duty, without the promise of His strength. Day by day our God gives strength, according as each day's duty or trial requires. And He gives willingness to venture upon His promise, and to undertake to
* Rom. viii. 29.
+ Isa. vi. 5-7.