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As those of the preceding. The evening of the world is cloudy and tempestuous; but He who rides in the whirlwind, and directs the storm,' hath promised, that' at even-tide it shall be light.' When every thing seems to threaten darkness and horror, then shall the Sun of Rightcousness arise!' - then shall the Redeemer's kingdom.emerge, like the new-made globe, from chaos, and fill the world with glory! - but the Father hath reserved in his own hand the times and seasons. We read futurity in the sacred book of Prophecy; but the characters are enigmatical, and require the hand of Providence to explain them. Faith, however, can look still farther ; - can look within the veil. Our foresight, or our fears, may paint scenes of national, of family, or of personal calamity. Faith points to One who hath delivered, who doth deliver, and who, we trust, also will deliver;'
to our view a world where neither sin nor sorrow, fear nor pain can ever enter.
MEDITATION ON THE NATIVITY.
Thou shalt call his name Jesus, for he shall save his people
from their sins. Man is ruined and undone by iniquity ; -he is proved to be guilty, and is already condemned. Unless then pardon be extended to him, the sentence must be executed, and he must perish!-- but God cannot pardon him, unless thro' a Surety suffering in his stead. This Surety the gospel discovers to us: One who is able to atone for our guilt, endure our punishment, and save us for ever. The discovery of a Saviour is of the last importance. Well might the angel say, when announcing his birth to the shepherds in the fields of Bethlehem, 'Behold, I bring you glad tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people; for unto you is born this day, in the city of David, a Saviour, who is Christ the Lord ! His name is called Jesus, because he shall save his people from their sins.'
First, Jesus saves from the power and pollution of sin. Man was lost and undone by transgression, and could not recover himself; but Jesus came to seek and to save that which was lost. When sinners betake themselves to Jesus, as he is made known. to them in the gospel, they are delivered from the power and pollution of sin. “All is defiled within them by iniquity. Sin reigns over them; but sin loses its power when the blood of Jesus is applied to the conscience: it no longer reigns within us to bring forth fruit unto death : it is mortified more and more by the efficacy of divine grace. Jesus' blood cleanses from all sin. This flowing on Calvary, and pleading before the throne, becomes a fountain for the cleansing the souls of all his people !
“There is a Fountain opened for the House of David, and the in habitants of Jerusalem, for sin and uncleanness.' To this Fountain we must daily come for cleansing, if we would be delivered from defilement! For the blood of Jesus Christ, who, through the Eternal Spirit, offered himself without spot unto God, shall purge our conscience from dead works to serve the living God."
• He purges us from all filthiness of flesh and spirit, and purifies us unto himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works.
When sin rages, and strives to gain the mastery, we cry to the Lord for deliverance from its power, saying, • Have mercy upon me, o God! according to thy loving-kindness ! According unto the multitude of thy tender mercies, blot out my transgressions! Wash me thoroughly from mine iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin !' Thus, deliverance from the reigning power of sin, is obtained by Christ Jesus.
Secondly, Jesus saves from the love and practice of sin. We are naturally inclined to the ways of destruction. We love sin. Sin, while it reigns and has dominion over us, is cherished in the heart, and obeyed in the life. When the sinner is renewed by divine grace, he is delivered from the love and the practice of iniquity. He no longer walks in these ways, but hates them. He forsakes them and follows the Lord, serving him in newness of spirit. He bas changed his master, the service is therefore different, and his state has undergone remarkable changes. As a newborn babe, he desires the sincere milk of the word, that he may grow thereby.' The service of the Lord is now their delight, and they find it to be perfect freedom : they bring forth fruit more and more to Jehovah's praise. As they become more and more conforned to the will of God, the reality of their change and the safety of their state become the more evident and undoubted. Whatever it be then that we chiefly serve and regard, that is our Master; and the saints will thus shew themselves to be purified unto God a' peculiar people, zealous of good works. It is easy to profess attachment to him, and assume a name; but do we love him? If we do, we must keep his commandments. . 'Know ye not, that to whom ye yield yourselves servants to obey, his servants ye are to whom ye obey, whether of sin unto death, or of obedience unto righteousness. Being then made free from sin, and become servants unto God, ye have your fruit unto holiness, and the end everlasting life.
Thirdly, Jesus saves from the guilt and punishment of sin. We are truly guilty before God. The design of his law is to discover to us our guilt, to shut our mouths, and convince us we are lost unless the Lord deliver us: but when we betake ourselves to Jesus, the only Saviour, we obtain our release. He hath, at the expence of his own blood, obtained eternal redemption for us. He, as man's Surety, was charged as guilty, and endured the penalty. Now, they who believe in him are delivered from the wrath to come. The punishment to them is
remitted, through him, their guilt being taken away by him. “Therefore, being justified by faith, they have peace with God, through the Lord Jesus. There is therefore now no condemnation to them that are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.'
Fourthly, Jesus delivers, his people from all sin, makes them, holy, and brings them to Heaven. The work of Jesus is not done imperfectly, or left incomplete. He finished the work the Father gave him to do. He destroys the works of the Devil in his people's hearts, destroys all sin, and makes them holy. • They are therefore enabled to perfect holiness, in the fear of the Lord. When they are conformed in all things to God, they are brought to his heavenly kingdom, and enter the upper sanctuary to serve him, without offending him, for ever. There is neither sorrow nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain, for the former things are passed away.' The saints are shewn to be in the way to Heaven, by becoming, through the faith of Jesus, more and more heavenly. Thus Jesus saves his people from their sins. We
may - now be convinced how inexcuseable and criminal unbelief is. Jesus saves from sin ; - he hath saved multitudes, and is still preached to us as a Saviour ; but, if we will not believe, we are highly criminal; we are utterly without excuse, and shall assuredly perish. Come then to Jesus! He saves from sin, and delivers from the wrath to come! Believe in him, and live! How safe is the state of such as trust in him! They shall not perish! Their enemies shall not prevail against them, por lead them astray! They shall not come short, but shall all enter Heayen!
THOUGHTS ON GOOD WORKS. Tie religion of Jesus Christ is not a system of speculative opinions, calculated merely to awaken inquiry, and supply materials of sanctimonious dispute :-it contains a series of facts, doctrines, and promises, which are eminently fitted to purify the heart of man, and to ennoble his character. The whole plan of redemption is evidently designed to restore our nature to its primitive dignity and beauty. If we were chosen in Christ before the foundation of the world, we were chosen that we should be holy, and without blame. If we are deliveredl, by Jesus Christ, out of ihe hands of our enemies, we are delivere l that we may serve God without fear, in holiness and righteousness before him, all the days of our life. We are justified by faith; but the faith which justifies before God, is a divine and living prin. ciple, which purifies the heart, overcomes the world, and works by love. The hope of Heaven, which supports under the ills of this wintery life, and sooths the sorrowful bosom, purifies the heart which it warms, as the object of that hope is pure. God worketb in us both to will and to do of his good pleasure. Encouraged by the belief of this, leaning on God, and becoming strong in proportion to our confidence in him, we work out our own salvation with fear and trembling. In one word, the grand object of the substitution and death of the Son of God, in subserviency to the divine glory, is, by an authority which cannot err, stated to be, . To redeem us from all iniquity, and purify us unto himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works.
Good works are the works of a justified man. • The Lord had respect unto Abel, and to his offering. By faith, Abel offered unto God a more excellent sacrifice than Cain; by which, he obtained witness that he was righteous, God testifying of his gifts."
Christ, of God, is made unto us righteousness and sanctification. • We, being dead in our sins, hath God quickened together with Christ, having forgiven us all trespasses." Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us, that we might receive the promise of the Spirit through faith. These passages of Scripture evidently support the sentiment, That the acceptance of our persons in the Beloved, precedes the aeceptance of our works. Besides, the belief of our being in a state of favour with God, through Jesus Christ, seems necessary, in order to remove the discouraging, the overwhelming fears which must ever invade the mind, conscious of guilt, in her approaches to God. While I contemplate him as an Almighty Enemy, how can I draw near to him as mine exceeding joy? How can I love him with all my heart, with all my soul, with all my strength, , and with all my mind? How can I cherish that sacred pleasure in obeying his law, which St. Paul felt when he said, I delight in the law of God after the inward man?' The gift of the Spirit, who dwells in believers, and who, by means of the word of God, enlightens, cleanses, and comforts their hearts, is the primary evidence of their acceptance in Christ. They have the witness in themselves that their persons are accepted, that there is no condemnation to them while they walk not after the Besh, but after the Spirit.
Good works proceed from a renovated heart. « Works done before the grace of Christ,' affirms the National Church very justly, in her 131h Article: 'And the inspiration of this Spirit are not pleasant to God, forasmuch as they spring not of faith in Jesus Christ; yea, for that they are not done as God hath willed and commanded them to be done, we doubt not but they have the nature of sin.'
This grace of Christ, or renewing of the Holy Ghost, consists of those new views, new principles of action, new desires, which he, by means of the word of Christ dwelling in us, creates, strengthens, and sustains. It is denominated, Ellectual Calling and Regeneration. It is the circumcision of the heart, the
the new man,
quickening of the dead, — the law of the mind,
the formation of Christ in the soul. This change of mind is needful, in order that our works may be acceptable; for, in truth, when we judge of the morality of actions, we invariably enquire into and weigh the principles in the heart, from which they take their origin. The good tree produces good fruit; and the corrupt tree corrupt fruit. Of thorns nien do not expect to gather figs; nor grapes of a bramble bush. The Creator impressed on the mind of our great Progenitor the image of his own sanctity, to qualify him for a life of perfect piety and goodness; and imparted to Jesus of Nazareth, holy, harmless, and eparate from sin as was his human nature, large measures of the Holy Ghost, as the Spirit of wisdom and uuderstanding, of counsel and might, of knowledge and of the fear of the Lord, to qualify him, by a life of matchless moral worth, to magnify the divine law, and make it honourable. The depraved state of the human heart renders This change indispensably necessary.
The carnal mind is enmity against God. How then shall a man, actuated by this enmity, love God with all his heart, and supremely study in all things io please him? Holy men, accordingly, implore of God to create in them a clean heart, and to renew a right spirit within them, - to incline their heart unto God's testimonies, and to fulfil his gracious promise of giving them a heart of flesh.
Good works are works required and regulated by the law of God This law, originally incorporated with the mental frame of man in paradise, was afterwards published from Sinai to the church of God. Its holy precepts, in succeeding ages, were explained and applied by the prophets; and, in the fulness of time, by. Jesus Christ and his apostles. This law is the standard of morals to human kind. Conformity to it makes the perfection of character. As the rule of conduct, its obligation is indissoluble. “Till Heaven and earth pass, not one jot or tittle shall in anywise pass from the law till all be fulfilled.'
"To this law, and to this testimony ;' if men speak not and act not according to this rule, it is because there is no light, no life in them. This law our divine Redler mer expounded to the Jewish people in his sermons and parables; and, when he left our world, he directed the apostles to traco the disciples to observe all things whatso. ever he had commanded them. This observance of his commandments he uniformly urged by arguments fiom the perfection of his divine nature, --- from his own authority over them, ---from his loye to their souls, and from their own happiness. Be perfect,' said he, as your Father, which is in Heaven, is perfect. Ye call me Master and Lord; and ye say well, for so l an. If I then, your Lord and Master, have washed jour feet, ye also cught to wash one another's feet. If ye love me, kiep nj commandments. If ye keep my commandments, yesirall abitie in my love; even as ! have kept my Father's commandments, and abide in luis love.' This law the holy apostles explained in their