Page images
PDF
EPUB

to a foreign port will enquire whether the course which he pursues will lead to that port. These Corinthians are exliorted to examine whether they be in the “faith.” By this faith we are not to understand an assent to the truth of revelation, or a persuasion of the excellence of the christian religion, because of this fact the apostle was already assured.

« Many of them,” the sa-ered historian relates, “believed and were baptized;" they yielded to the testimony of the gospel, and expressed their general faith by asking admission to the privileges of the church in the ordinance of baptism., But thousands who are recognized as members of the sanctuary on earth, we have rea-. son to fear, will never be admitted to the worship of the sanctuary in heaven. Our elaim to the privileges of the church visible, however desirable, is no certain evidence of our claim to the immunities and glories of the church invisible. The form of godliness is possessed by many who are destitute of its power: The lamp of a profession may be carried in the hand, when the oil of saving grace has never been communicated to the heart. Our Master has taught us to expect that“many will say to liim in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? And in thy name have cast out devils? And in thy name done many wonderful works? To whom he will profess, I never knew you -depart from me, ye workers of iniquity.” The faith mentioned with such emphasis by

the apostle is that principle which actually embraces the Saviour; which claims him on the general grant of the gospel for remission of sin, for sanctification and future glory; which takes shelter beneath the covert of his atonement and righteousness from the thunders of the broken law, and the tempest of almighty wrath. This is that faith in the possession of which none ever perished, and without which none need expect salvation. There is no condemnation to them who are in Christ Jesus, and there is no salvation for a sinner of the human family in any other. These Corinthians are not admonished to examine whether they had repented of their past imperfections, or were purified from their former immoralities, but to enquire “ whether they be in the faith,” because faith by holding communion with Jesus the everliving Head, gives vigor to every other grace, just as the living tree imparts nourishment to all the branches which grow upon it; or as the living fountain feeds the various streams which issue from it. « Faithi worketh by love; it purifies the heart ;" it has its “ fruit unto holiness, and the end everlasting life.”

Brethren, the duty enjoined by the apostle is infinitely interesting to you and meit most intimately concerns the peace of our consciences now, and the safety of our souls for ever. May the Holy Ghost shed light upon the understanding both of speaker and hearer while I attempt to shew

I. How we may ascertain whether we * be in the faith," and,

II. Why we ought immediately and earnestly to examine ourselves in this matter.

I. The reality of our faith may be known by its internal actings and exercises. It is defined in scripture, a looking unto Jesus Christ, receiving him; resting upon him ; counting all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus, the Lord; turning to him as a strong hold, and fleeing for refuge to him as the hope set before us in the gospel ; coming to him for rest; depending upon him for righteousness and strength; and rejoicing in him as our beloved, particularly improving him as our shepherd, our Father, our high tower, our deliverer and shield. Now, by a patient and impartial examination of our own hearts, we may ascertain whether these exercises have been experienced there. We know that we possess a rational faculty by the operations of this faculty ; by our fears and hopes, our joys, our affections, our aversions, our recollection of what is past, and our anticipation of what is to come; and we may know that we possess the principle of grace by the operations of that principle ; by our hatred of sin, by our desires after holiness, by our love to God, by our cordial delight in his communion, by our unfeigned respect for his commandments, and ordinances. Retiring for a season from the company, and

[ocr errors]

cares of the world let us propose to ourselves the following solemn enquiries. “Have there been particular moments when we beheld our miserable, and truly awful condition by nature ? that as transgressors of the law of God which is holy and just, we are under the curse, heirs of wrath, plunged in infinite arrears to his justice without the least ability to cancel this debt either in whole or in part? from this discovery of our own exceeding sinfulness, and the purity and majesty of that law which we had violated, were we driven utterly to despair of relief by any penances, or performances of our own ? did we afterwards discover a remedy for our diseases, a redemption for our offences, in the obedience and blood of Jesus “the Lamb of God who taketh away the sins of the world ?" did we obtain some affecting apprehensions of him as suffering for us, the just for the unjust that he might bring us to God, as set forth by the Father to be “a propitiation through faith in his blood to declare his righteousness for the remission of sin ?” have we discerned this righteousness of Jesus the everlasting Surety to be infinitely meritorious in its nature, fully answerable to all the demands of justice, and acceptable to God the Father ? bave we discovered this redemption to be free for the chief of sinners, and consequently free for us? and renouncing all other refuges have we solemnly rested our souls on this Mediator for pardon, and peace, adoring his

condescension that he should pity our perishing world, and give his life a ransom for our sins? Is it the deliberate and full consent of our hearts, nay, our most ardent desire to be redeemed, and sanctified, and saved, and thus stand forth, both in time and eternity, monuments “to the praise of the riches of the glory of his grace ?" Amidst the numerous failures with which we are chargeable, the omission or the imperfect discharge of duty, have we constant recourse to the blood of his cross for the new pardon before God, and new peace to our own consciences ? « In the Lord shall all the seed of Israel be justified and shall glory. I count all things but loss that I may win Christ, and be found in him, not having mine own righteousness which is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith.” Amidst the various evils and perplexities of life, have we recourse to Jesus Christ, for rest, and support, and consolation ? “ The Lord is my portion saith my soul,” one inspired writer asserts, “ therefore will I trust in him : Though my flesh and my heart fail, he is the sirength of my heart and my portion for

Amidst all the vicissitudes of this changing world, amidst the variety of our inward feelings, and our outward circumstances, is it the source of our glorying and joy that our Redeemer is strong and without change ; that his love, and promises, and

ever.

« PreviousContinue »