« PreviousContinue »
find nothing at all in these evidences which you can apply to yourself, you have too much ground to fear the worst of your state. Long though you may have been at ease in your mind, and thought favourably of your case, be assured, on the authority of God's testimony, that you are none of Christ's. Though possessed of a name to live, you are spiritually dead. Your condition is more eminently perilous than that of openly profligate and presumptuous sinners. They dare not flatter themselves that they are on the road to heaven ; but you have done so, while on the road to hell. Unless you can be aroused to a sense of your awful danger, your everlasting perdition is inevitable. To effect your awakening, therefore, in as far as human instrumentality is concerned, let me solicit your serious attention to the following chapter.
ADDRESS TO THOSE WHO HAVE NO GENUINE EVIDENCE
OF A GRACIOUS STATE.
1. If you are destitnte of all the evidences in the preceding Chapter, be assured you are still in a state of condemnation.-2. Your present condition is peculiarly dangerous.—3. Your punishment shall be dreadful if you die in your present state.-4. You are not yet without hope.–5. There is no safety for you except in Christ.-6. Christ is able to save the very chief of sinners.-7. Christ is willing to save you, and all who come to hiio.-8. Let these truths be impressed on your mind, and, as a perishing sinner, flee to Christ, and believe in him, and you shall be saved.-9. Give yourself no rest till you have ground to conclude that you are truly a believer in Christ.
It is more than probable that some who have perused the preceding chapter, must be conscious that they are destitute of all claim to the evidences of a gracious state there mentioned. The utmost of their religious attainments may not surpass, if they even reach so far, as those marks which I have endeavoured to prove are utterly fallacious. So far from being able to trace in themselves the features of the children of God, they may be forced to say, that, after the most careful trial, they cannot perceive in themselves even one indisputable evidence of true godliness. Too many persons of this description have in all ages
existed in the Christian church. While possessed of a name to live, they have been spiritually dead :-while holding the form of godliness, they have been destitute of its spirit and power. If this
condition, my reader, be yours, permit me, as a messenger of mercy, compassionately to address you in the name of the Lord, and to set before you both your danger, and the way by which you may be saved.
1. Be assured you are still in a state of condemnation-Do not attempt to lull yourself into security, by supposing that after all you have read on this subject, the writer may be deceived, and your spiritual condition may be much better than he has
represented. Do not flatter yourself, that though you cannot honestly say you possess any of the characteristic marks of a gracious state which he has specified; yet there may be others, lower and easier to reach, which, if you know them, would fill you with hope.—Let me remind you, that in this important inquiry it is not with man that you have to deal, but with God. If the writer have mentioned any thing as a test of vital piety, not found in the sacred Scriptures, you ought to reject it as an unhallowed imposition. But if he have specified none except those which are delineated by the Spirit of God, who cannot deceive, or be deceived; you must abide by His infallible decision. And that this is the accredited stamp of all the evidences above enumerated, you cannot deny.-Nor is the writer aware that any genuine evidences which are. lower and easier to reach, are contained in the sacred volume. Gladly would he avail himself of any such, were they to be found here, that he might better meet the case of the weakest believer in the household of faith. But while he readily admits that there are many other
evidences of a gracious state in the Bible, besides these which he has considered, he will venture to affirm, that none of them will be found applicable to those who cannot apply to themselves some of these he has specified. Several of them are essential to the existence of a Christian in his very weakest estate. The babe in grace cannot exist without reliance on the righteousness of Christ,-unfeigned love to him, his word, and his people,- endeavours to honour him by obeying his commandments,-the spirit and practice of prayer,—and concern for the salvation of others.
Now, since you are conscious that you are destitute of these evidences of Christian character, you cannot be a real believer in Christ. Your religious profession, how long soever you have retained it, and how well soever it has been supported by appearances before men, is nothing better than mere pretence. Still you are like a body without a soul. You want the vital and actuating principle of a Christian.
You are a stranger to that great renovating change which is indispensably necessary to the formation of a believer in Christ ; and without which all your avowals of faith in him are insincere and unavailing. The language of the Bible on this subject is universally and immutably true-“ Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God;" — “ If any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his ;" “ If any man be in Christ, he is a new creature : old things are passed away ; behold all things are become new ;"_“ In Christ Jesus neither
circumcision availeth any thing, nor uncircumcision ; but faith which worketh by love."*
Your present condition, therefore, is a state of condemnation. 66 He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.”+ Yes, you are not simply exposed to the danger of condemnation at a future period; but already the sentence has gone forth against you, and shall assuredly be executed, if you continue in your present state. Not only are you chargeable with manifold violations of the law of God, the smallest of which is sufficient to subject you to his righteous displeasure ; but, above all, you are guilty of unbelief. God has published to you bis testimony respecting pardon and eternal life through the blood of his Son; and assured you, that without an interest in him you must everlastingly perish. But you have not believed his testimony, and consequently have treated the God of truth as if he were a liar ! Never have you to this moment in good earnest viewed yourself in a perishing and helpless condition. Never have you to this moment believed your indispensable need of Christ, and his ability and willingness to save. Say, then, has not God just ground to be angry with you, and to condemn you for thus discrediting his word, and virtually impeaching him with telling you a falsehood ?
be offended with that man who would impeach your truest averments, and treat them as a lie ? . And yet you have
Would not you
* John iii. 3; Rom. viii. 9; 2 Cor. v. 17; Gal. v. 6.
+ John iii, 18.