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the humble and earnest desire of repentance; and such desire needs to be carried out into real, lasting, habitual holiness, before a man can reasonably apply to his own heart the consolations of the true believer. In a mixed
In a mixed congregation of Christians, the state of religious progress must always be very various and dissimilar. The preacher may display the promises and consolations of the Gospel, but he must always be painfully aware that they cannot be applicable alike to all. He must trust and pray that the blessed Spirit of God, who alone can order the unruly wills and affections of sinful men, may give to each that aid which he most needs,--and commend to all, as the ambassador of Christ, the necessity of a true repentance and faith in Christ, as the first qualifications for receiving blessing.
Each for himself must examine, must pray, must endeavour. While Christian Religion exhibits the wisdom of God in the manner in which it makes personal virtue to rely upon competent external aid,-in which it makes a man's hope of attaining to purity and bliss depend primarily and wholly upon the help of God, in the Atonement of Jesus Christ, and the sanctification of the Holy Ghost ;-. it shows it not less clearly in the imperative vecessity, which it declares, of a personal, unborrowed holiness. Each to his own Master must stand or fall. Each must attain, under grace, to a real resurrection in this life,-a real renewal of heart, and change of life, or to him there is held out nei
ther hope nor promise of the Resurrection to glory. The comforts of the Blessed Spirit, the sense of being within God's assured purpose, are not to be lightly won or lightly kept. Though indeed they be the gift, the free gift of a most bountiful and merciful Father, yet to us they are shown in the other light, of rewards, hopes, promises. They are indeed both. From habitually considering them as both, we shall learn to consider them aright. Let none be proud, or self-satisfied, or any thing but most humble and abased towards God; for his best obedience and faith are wholly and entirely the gift of the free and unmerited grace of God: let none be supine in privilege, or negligent in prayer, or unproductive in the fruits of holiness, for in due season we shall reap if we faint not ; for God is not unrighteous who will forget our work and labour of love.
And may His Holy Spirit, in whom alone we have Christian life, or advancement, or being, enable us to have such love of God, that we may hope ourselves among the called, according to His purpose,--and not called only but justified, and not justified only, but to be glorified,—and, haviny this only and most sure ground of Christian comfort, may know that all things are working together for our true and eternal good !
IF THEY BELIEVE NOT MOSES,
ST. LUKE Xyi. 31.
“And he said unto him, If they believe not Moses and the Prophets, neither will they be persuaded though one rose from the dead."
THE Parable in which this verse occurs is one of the most remarkable in the New Testament; remarkable, both on account of the plainness with which it represents circumstances as taking place in the Invisible World; and on account of the statement contained in the verse which I have chosen for my text. There are probably few Christians who have not felt surprised at the doctrine of this verse ; few, who have not felt disposed to question whether the sentiment put into the mouth of Abraham were altogether just,—whether the request of the rich man were not one which might reasonably and with good effect have been
complied with. The earlier verses of the Parable are striking, but present no particular difficulty. We acquiesce readily in the impossibility of the mitigation of the rich man's doom, when he cried and said, “ Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus, that he may dip the tip of his finger in water, and cool my tongue ; for I am tormented in this flame.
But Abraham said, Son, remember that thou in thy lifetime receivedst thy good things, and likewise Lazarus evil things ; but now he is comforted, and thou art tormented. And beside all this, between
you there is a great gulf fixed : so that they which would pass from hence to you, cannot ; neither can they pass to us that would come from thence.” But in the conversation which is represented as ensuing upon this refusal, there is apparent difficulty. The rich man then said, “ I pray thee therefore that thou wouldest send him to my father's house : for I have five brethren ; that he may testify unto them, lest they also come into this place of torment. Abraham saith unto him, They have Moses and the Prophets ; let them hear them. And he said, Nay, Father Abraham, but if one went unto them from the dead, they will repent. And he said unto him, If they hear not Moses and the Prophets, neither will they be persuaded though one rose from the dead.”
These words of Abraham are often thought to contain much difficulty. People are disposed to fancy that if one rose from the dead, to testify to God's anger against sin, the obduracy of man's
heart could not or would not resist so wonderful an evidence. They are disposed to imagine that so miraculous a witness might prevail upon the heart that had been vainly solicited by Moses and the Prophets, and almost to sympathize more with the fraternal anxiety of the rich man in torment, than with the stern and apparently rigorous refusal of the great Father of the Jewish people.
It is therefore very important to examine this passage of Holy Writ; and in so doing, it will appear, I doubt not, not only that “Wisdom is justified' in all her sayings, but also that the lesson here taught is full of instruction, very applicable and much needed by Christians of all times. May the Holy Spirit of God enable us to understand His Word aright, and lay it to heart for our improvement in spiritual knowledge and holiness!
The brethren of this rich man were, by the supposition of the story, Jews, brought up within the knowledge of the law; admitted by circumcision to the covenant; enjoying the light of divine revelation in the writings of Moses and the Prophets. This was their privilege and knowledge. Meanwhile they were profligate and self-indulgent; faring sumptuously every day, while a sick and helpless brother of the Covenant was expiring with famine at their doors : this was a specimen of their sin and disobedience. They knew the commands of God, and the judgments threatened upon those