Page images


difficulties indeed there are; but grace lessens them all, and sweetens them all; so that the worst of Christ's way is better than the best of Satan's way; and, what is best of all, the end is eternal life!—and oh! what tongue can tell, what heart conceive, what God has laid up for them that love him! Is there a redeemed soul in glory who now repents of the pains he took in religion? Does he repent of his repentance? Does he regret that he believed in the Son of God? Is he sorry that he walked in the ways of holiness? Oh, no! Each glorified saint reviews, with ecstacy of joy, the rich grace of God, that enabled him to discover the danger of that broad road in which he once travelled, and that directed his feet into the narrow, but safe and certain road to eternal bliss.

Obey, then, the word of our Lord in another place: "Strive to enter in at the strait gate." Agonize to do it :-do it at all events; do it directly. Let not a moment be lost! Escape for your lives; -look not behind you, neither tarry ye in all the plain! Escape to the mountain, lest ye be consumed!" Fly from the wrath to come!" for many will seek to enter in, and shall not be able." Luke xiii. 24. Many, who would willingly go to Heaven, seek after it in so cold and slothful a manner, or by such false and mistaken ways, that they never obtain it ;-and O! how many who now neglect it altogether, will knock for admittance when the door is shut! Now, therefore, while it is called to-day, let us hear his voice! Let us be diligent in observing the Sabbath, attending on the preached word as often as possible, reading the Scriptures daily; and, especially, let us wrestle hard with God in prayer, that he would give us his Spirit to teach and assist us, and work in our hearts that deep repentance, that true faith, and that genuine holiness,

which are the proper exercises of all who travel in the narrow way to Heaven.

The Almost Christian and Apostate.

BROAD is the road that leads to death,
And thousands walk together there;
But wisdom shows a narrower path,
With here and there a traveller.

"Deny thyself, and take thy cross,"

Is the Redeemer's great command;
Nature must count her gold but dross,
If she would gain the heavenly land.

The fearful soul that tires and faints,

And walks the ways of God no more,
Is but esteem'd almost a saint,

And makes his own destruction sure.

Lord, let not all my hopes be vain!
Create my heart entirely new!
Which hypocrites could ne'er attain;
Which false apostates never knew.





ROMANS vii. 9.

For I was alive without the Law once; but when the Commandment came, sin revived, and I died.


is a most certain maxim of Scripture, that "The whole need not a physician; but those who are sick." The church of Christ has been justly compared to an hospital, to which none but the sick repair; no wonder, then, that the gay and healthy shun it. But, whether we know it or not, our souls are dangerously diseased; and the worst symptom of all is, when we know it not.

It may not be pleasant to a person to be told of any thing amiss in his health, his family, or his affairs: yet he is a true friend who gives the information; and he is a wise man who thankfully receives it. With this view, John the Baptist was sent before Christ, by preaching repentance, to prepare the way for him; and the disciples of John gladly received the Saviour. Without the knowledge of ourselves as sinners, we cannot understand the gospel, nor prize Jesus;-and this is the true key to what would otherwise be unaccountable,—the general neglect of the great salvation. When our Lord himself and his inspired Apostles, with every possible advantage, preached the gospel, few believed the heavenly report; almost all, with one consent, began to make excuse; one going to his farm, and

[blocks in formation]

another to his merchandise. Now, as men are all alive to worldly pleasure and profit, it is evident that their neglect arises from ignorance of their true. state; and this is from their ignorance of the Law of God, which is the only certain rule and standard which to measure ourselves.


Hence St. Paul, designing in this epistle to treat fully concerning the great point of justification, or being made righteous before God, takes care, in the first place, to prove that all men in the world are sinners, the Gentiles, against the law of nature, and the Jews against the written law, or ten commandments. He well knew the importance of this method, by his own experience; for he says in the text, "he was alive without the law once," &c.— that is, when he was unconverted and a proud Pharisee, he had high swelling thoughts of himself; thought all was well between God and him; he did not see himself dead in law, being justly condemned by it for his sin; but he was all alive in his own opinion; and his mistake arose from ignorance of the law. He was "without the law;" not without the letter of it; he could have said it all by heart; but he did not know its spiritual meaning and high requirements. But when the commandment came, especially the tenth commandment; when it came in the light and energy of the Holy Spirit, to his mind and conscience; when he saw that it reached to the thoughts, principles, views, and desires of the heart, as well as to his words and actions; requiring perfect purity, and condemning for a single sin, even in thought, then saith he, then "sin revived, and I died." Then he saw thousands of things to be sins, which he never thought such before; and he found sin had full power and life in him; sin revived in his conscience; he saw it in all its dreadful terror, as justly exposing him to the wrath of God; and he fell under a sense of death and condem

nation, as a mau dead in law, and deserving to die eternally.

Now, that we may rightly understand the law, and that it may be" our schoolmaster to bring us to

Christ," let us,

I. Take a view of the holy law, by which is the knowledge of sin; and,

II. Consider the proper effect of a work of the law on the heart.

I. Let us take a view of the holy law of God; for hereby is the knowledge of sin.

Remember, my friends, that God, who is the Maker of the world, is also the governor of it. God prefaces his law with these words: I am Jehovah, the self-existing Being, the Source of all being, on whom all beings depend; and, he adds, I am thy God, to remind the Jews of their relation to him; for they were his professed worshippers, as we also are:-he adds, who brought thee out of the land of Egypt, and out of the house of bondage. Here are their obligations to him, on account of their wonderful deliverance; so the redemption of sinners, by Jesus Christ, lays them under infinite obligations to holy obedience. Man is a rational being, and accountable to God for his conduct. Brutes are led by instinct; but it is fit that man should be led by proper motives, willingly to obey his Maker's Now, from the first, God gave a law to



It was not indeed written;-there was no occasion for it. Men lived almost a thousand years, and could easily teach their children what God at first taught Adam. At length, however, God saw fit to give this law from Mount Sinai, in dreadful thunders; and also to write it on two tables of stone.

You will observe, that the law of God is summed up in one word, namely LovE; and that this love

« PreviousContinue »