« PreviousContinue »
unsinning obedience. Something towards a proportionate return of love and gratitude, therefore, is surely due unto Him who asks. for our love, and has assured us, that the proof thereof is keeping His commandments.
Let us not be satisfied, then, with that barren faith which will satisfy the world: for some appearance of faith even the world expects of every one who lives at all within the line of open and professed neglect of religious observances and moral law; but still a very little, a mere outward profession is all that the world requires. The world sees not the heart, nor requires the only scriptural proof that a living faith, the world's great enemy and unceasing opposer, dwells there. The world only asks for something outwardly decent, something to manifest a respectable religious creed, something which may distinguish modern learning from ancient superstition, a better theology from idol worship, or from lower degrees of true knowledge in ages less refined than our own. But if we are sound in faith, and strive, before God and man, to prove our faith by spiritual earnestness somewhat proportioned to the unspeakable value of the soul, in the service and to the honour and glory of Him who came to redeem our soul, the world will tell us that we go too far; will laugh at and despise us; will call it enthu
siasm, fanaticism, or perhaps say of us, as the enemies of Christ once said of Him, "He is mad, and hath a devil."
But is it earnest zeal in itself that is quarrelled with? We know that it is not. We may be as eager and as zealous as health, and strength, and animal spirits will allow, after the pleasures and profits of this life, the unrighteous mammon; and the world will give us ready and plentiful praise for being so; we may spend our days and nights, our health and strength, yea, our very life itself, in labouring after business or pleasure, as it is called, and the world will speak well of us. But will the judgment of the world upon our characters satisfy God? does it, even now, satisfy our own conscience, or will it pronounce our acquittal at the tribunal of Christ? Will such a faith bring us under a deep sense of sin to the Redeemer? will it so convince us of the inward depravity of our own heart, of sin's exceeding sinfulness, as to render us willing and eager to seek of Him that redemption, that renovation, and spiritual strength, the glory and the perfect efficacy whereof are all His?
From the self-evident answer to these questions, let us learn the immeasurable distance between that faith in the Gospel, which only can be a saving faith, and that poor resem
blance of it, which will satisfy the world. If, through God's grace, our souls are indeed awakened from the death of sin, to a knowledge of our lost and guilty state by nature, we shall then boldly and consistently adorn and prove our faith.
We shall then shew that we believe in Christ as our example in holiness and active virtuous living, as well as the great propitiatory sacrifice for our sins,
But if, on the other hand, we are indifferent to the salvation of our souls, and pass our days, and consult our will, and waste our probationary moments for eternity, living almost as though we had no souls to be saved, our saying that we believe in Christ will not, cannot save us "from the wrath to come." The very knowledge of the Gospel, and our profession of an outward Christian faith, will then only render it far better that we had never heard the name of Christ. For, when the last great day shall be come, and assembled millions shall themselves behold that second Advent, which must settle the accounts of eternity, who will then be found subject to so dreadful a punishment, as the enlightened but unprofitable Christian, "who knew his Lord's will and did it not"? who confessed Christ as a Saviour, but denied Him in their lives; who rested in their notion of a saving
faith upon the false judgment of this world, and never weighed their own character, as to faith and practice, as conscience oftentimes urged, and Scripture everywhere commanded, according to the Saviour's own and infallible test: "If ye know these things, happy are ye if ye do them."
Let these words, corresponding, as they most exactly do, with the whole spirit of religion, sink deep into our hearts; and let them be the never-failing answer to every evil temptation, from within or from without, to suppose that there can ever be a possibility of salvation under the Christian covenant, unless a sound faith lead to the honest wish and earnest endeavour after a holy, a useful, and a virtuous life. Then only can we be known on earth, then only can we be registered in the book of life, as among those who take Christ to themselves, as their only Saviour, their King, and their great example, in love and obedience to the laws of God. Then only, in a thankful remembrance of His first Advent to save the world, do we make good preparation for His awful second Advent to judge the world.
"And the Word was made Flesh, and dwelt among us."
Of all the solemn subjects upon which our thoughts can be employed, none can be named so greatly important as the redemption of our souls through the eternal Son of God. This stupendous mystery is comprehended in the short text which is now brought before us; and to this let us give our most earnest attention, not as unto a thing new in itself, but as a subject so deeply affecting our present and future happiness; as one in compari son with which, all other things appear of little account. 9.
The text, as matter for our present consideration, leads us to a threefold division of its subject. First, who is meant by the Word; Secondly, what he did on our behalf; Thirdly, the influence which this knowledge ought