Page images

forgets the danger of the voyage. What will not a parent do to save a beloved child? He will rush into the fire, or plunge into the water, to rescue it from death; and, if successful, will forget the perils to which he had exposed himself, and be satisfied in the safety of his child. This, indeed, is but a faint image of the compassion of Christ Jesus. He not only risked his life, but actually laid it down; not only suffered, but expired under his sufferings. But the end for which he suffered is answered: he sees a vast multitude of the human race converted and saved, who, but for his dying agonies, must have perished for ever; he rejoices over them; "he sees of the travail of his soul, and is satisfied."


The eternal Father, also, is pleased to declare the benefits which those, who believe, shall receive through the merits of his well-beloved Son. "By his knowledge shall my righteous servant justify many." Christ, as man, was the Father's righteous servant: as God, he was equal with the Father; but, when he became man, he “took upon him the form of a servant." Phil. ii. 7. It then became his duty to obey; and he fulfilled that duty, not only as obliged to it, but as delighting in it. My meat is to do the will of him that sent me, and to finish his work." John, iv. 34: and again, he said, "I came down from heaven, not to do mine own will; but the will of him that sent me. John, vi. 38. The obedience which Christ paid to the divine law was willing, and it was perfect; he is, therefore, called, the Father's righteous servant; and, by the apostle, St. John, "Jesus Christ the righteous." 1 John, ii. 1. His whole life, from the manger to the cross, was a life of devoted, willing, perfect obedience: thus he fulfilled all righteousness himself, and became the Justifier of

[ocr errors]

his believing people. He shall justify many, even as many as believe in his name; for "by him all that believe are justified from all things, from which they could not be justified by the law of Moses." Acts, xiii. 39. Their own works cannot justify them; but the Lord Jesus clothes them with the robe of his perfect and unspotted righteousness, and will present them faultless before the throne of God.

Justification is here said to be communicated by the knowledge of Christ; that is, a true and saving knowledge of Christ is the means of our justification. This is agreeable to the Apostle's doctrine of justification by faith, Rom. v. 1; for faith in Christ supposes a previous knowledge of him. We cannot believe in him without having known him; and that divine and saving knowledge of Christ, which is from the Spirit of God, produces faith and obedience; and, therefore, it is said, "By his knowledge shall my righteous servant justify many." There is a barren speculative knowledge which will not justify, and which is nearly allied to, a dead faith; but that knowledge, of which the prophet speaks in this passage, is holy, sanctifying, and saving. Our Lord himself said of it, "This is life eternal, that they might know thee, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent." John, xvii. 3. St. Paul counted all things but loss, for the excellency of this knowledge of Christ Jesus his Lord; and desired, above all things, "that he might know him and the power of his resurrection." Phil. iii. 8—10: and St. Peter wishes "to them, who have obtained like precious faith with us, through the righteousness of God and our Saviour, Jesus Christ" (or rather of our God and Saviour, Jesus Christ), grace and peace, to be multiplied "through the knowledge of God, and of Jesus, our Lord." 2 Pet.

i. 1, 2. The real knowledge of Christ, therefore, is an invaluable blessing; it is like true faith, as distinguished from mere speculative notions, justifying, sanctifying, and saving.

[ocr errors]

But though true saving faith, or knowledge, is the means of our justification, it is not the meritorious cause of it; but only Christ's bearing the sins of his people; therefore it is added, " for he shall bear their iniquities." There is no merit in a believer's knowledge, or faith; it is the gift of God; and all the merit is in Christ, for whose sake faith is given to those who are partakers of it. The meritorious cause of our justification, is in the sufferings and death of Christ; and, therefore, it is said, Rom. v. 9, that we are justified by his blood, and shall be saved from wrath through him." The saving knowledge of Christ is only valuable, as it leads us to look unto Jesus as bearing our sins, and as 66 giving his life a ransom for many. Matt. xx. 28. And this looking unto Jesus, by a true and lively faith, will be the Christian's consolation against the fear of death, and give him boldness in the day of judgment: for, "as it is appointed unto men once to die; but after this the judgment: so Christ was once offered to bear the sins of many; and unto them that look for him shall he appear the second time, without sin, unto salvation." Heb. ix. 27, 28.

To him, therefore, we must look, if we would be justified in the sight of God; not to any thing that we can do; but simply to the Lord Jesus, as bearing our iniquities; for justification is "freely by God's grace, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus." Rom. iii. 24. Those who seek to be justified in any other way, than by Jesus Christ, will most certainly be condemned: instead of being accounted righteous before God, they will be proved guilty; for

they will be tried by God's holy law, which reaches to the very thoughts and intents of the heart, and which requires absolute perfection; and, being weighed in that impartial balance, they must be found wanting. There can be no justification without the saving knowledge of Christ crucified; but sentence of condemnation will be passed on every soul, that shall be found destitute of it at the great day of our Lord's appearing and glory; for as he will say to the righteous, "Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world; " he will say, also, to them on the left hand," Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels." Matt. xxv. 34. 41.

It behoves us, therefore, to ask ourselves what knowledge we have of Jesus Christ, whether the eyes of our understanding have been enlightened by the Spirit of God; so that we can in truth say with the Apostle, "Knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law, but by the faith of Jesus Christ, even we have believed in Jesus Christ, that we might be justified by the faith of Christ, and not by the works of the law; for, by the works of the law, shall no flesh be justified." Gal. ii. 16. The question is, have we a practical experience of this in our own souls? Is it our heart's desire and prayer, that we may know Christ, not with that vain and empty knowledge which puffeth up; but with that holy and sanctifying knowledge which directs us to Christ, as bearing our iniquities, and, then, leads us to walk as becometh those who profess to believe in his name? Many, alas! are strangers to this holy and heavenly knowledge of Christ crucified; many are careless about it; and, it is to be feared, that numbers, who profess to have it, deceive themselves with speculative knowledge, which is nothing

but a base counterfeit, and will leave them under guilt and condemnation at the last. The true knowledge of Christ will lead us to desire, as we know him more, to serve him better; and, indeed, the more we really know of Jesus Christ, the more precious he will be to our souls, the more earnestly we shall look to him as bearing our sins; and the more we look to him, the more we shall love him, and the better we shall serve him. Our minds will be more serious, our conscience more tender, our walk more circumspect, our tempers more subdued, our prayers more fervent; for all these, and

every other grace, are connected with the saving knowledge of Christ crucified. Wherefore, let believers " grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ." 2 Pet. iii. 18. Let them set a high value on that divine knowledge of Christ Jesus, whereby, as the Father's righteous servant, he shall justify many; and let it be the prayer of their hearts, that, being strengthened by the Spirit, they may "know the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge, and be filled with all the fulness of God. Eph. iii. 19.




I NOW find myself on the borders of the grave, and know that my few remaining sands will soon be run. This world is fast fading on my view, and, in a very short space of time, I must bid farewell, I will not say an everlasting one,

to all now near and dear to me. That most momentous period is, indeed, near; I do not wish to shun, I would rather welcome, its approach.

Events that formerly appeared important, I now look upon as trifling. For me, the riches, pleasures, honours of the world, what are they ? Can riches bribe death, or deprive the grave of its destined prey? Will it purchase me a passport to heaven, or enable me in any way to land on its blissful shores? The pleasures of the world, can I enjoy them now? Nature would supply the greatest luxuries to my table in vain; the finest works of art, the most glorious achievements of genius, would be to me a mere blank in comparison with Calvary's Mount.

Let me look on Golgotha,
Weep and love my life away:
While I see him on the tree,
Weep, and bleed, and die for me!

Shall I speak of the honours which mortals can bestow? They will give me no right to heaven. The most splendid of earthly diadems, the highest of earthly honours, I should not prize. I have a heavenly crown in view, and hope, by the strength of my God, for the attainment of it. "Could I but read my title clear," I should depart in peace, pleased in being so early called away from this painful and dangerous pilgrimage; gladly, then, could I embrace the coffin as my bride, the grave my bridal bed. 0 pray for me, for I am very weak and helpless, that I may have grace sufficient in the day of need--that I may finish my course with joy.

My dear friend, As I feel daily more and more the value and the importance of religion, so am I daily more and more anxious, that those I love, who will be remembered in my feeble prayers the few short days I have to sojourn here, should rise above the love of this world, and fix their constant thoughts on that state to which we are fast hastening. I know you love your Saviour; endeavour, pray, to love him with a greater

degree of earnestness. He is now my only comfort, my only source of joy. When I look back upon my past life, the recollection of Means and mercies, how abused! Time and strength, how misemployed! my vile ingratitude, in almost daily forgetting the the God who bought me ! I am filled with deep self-abasement! I abhor myself in dust and ashes! But when I am enabled to look up to him as the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world, as the all-sufficient sacrifice, I hope for mercy in redeeming love, and glory in the thoughts of death. Be not content in endeavouring only to make your own calling and election sure; think of the lost sheep of the house of Israel; pray for the peace of Jerusalem. In this I greatly failed. You know my timid feelings. I could be silent in a season when a word spoken might have been of service to the souls of some. I ought to have been bold in the cause of Christ; I should have laid every such feeling at the foot of the

cross. I should have recollected the words of our Lord, "Whosoever shall deny me before men, him will I also deny before my Father which is in heaven," and have determined to spend and to be spent in the service of my Redeemer. I suffered idle and frivolous excuses to prevail, I put off opportunities for still more convenient opportunities. May God forgive me for his dear Son's sake!

For Jesus! Jesus! there I'll cling, I'll crowd beneath his sheltering wing; I'll clasp the cross, and holding there, Even me, O bliss! his love may spare.

I am tired and exhausted. I have not said all I intended, yet must conclude. A fear, however,-I should not say fear,-that this may be my last letter to you, would induce me to go on, were I able, before this throbbing heart, this beating pulse be still. Blessed be God, I can go to a throne of grace; and there, there I will remember you! Ever, my dear friend, Most affectionately yours,



IF you shall deem the following Hints on the wisest mode of a Christian's demeanour in the sight of a deriding world worthy of public notice, they are very much at your service. They are particularly addressed to those who profess the sentiments pervading your work; and, should they meet with acceptance, I may perhaps forward another paper on the same subject. 1. The men of this world greatly delight to expatiate on, and upbraid, the incautious or disreputable deeds of religious professors; not with any view of producing amendment, but with the design of bringing reproach upon religion. The Christian's duty then is, to exercise great circumspection lest he prove stumbling block to those who are


without, or cause persecution_to the followers of the Lamb. He must ever bear in mind that precept of his Divine Master, "Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven."

2. The imprudent zeal of some, who obtrude the subject of religion on unfit occasions, in improper places, and to unknown persons, is often prejudicial to its interests in the eyes of the world. Our conversation, indeed, ought to be seasoned with salt, and important truths should be brought forward where likely to produce good effect; but, yet, pearls should not be cast before those who know not how to appreciate them; nor should the

wisdom of the serpent, any more than the innocence of the dove, be despised. Yet, on the contrary, we ought not to be ashamed of religion, or to shrink from introducing it, whenever a fair opportunity is afforded to determine when to speak, or when to be silent, requires great practical wisdom; and should, therefore, often be made the subject of fervent prayer. In like manner, the indiscriminate bounty with which charity is too frequently dispensed, and the various impositions of knavery, are frequently dwelt upon by those who seek occasion for censure. Many good works, indeed, are not sufficiently supported, and many distressing cases not adequately relieved; while institutions and candidates are sometimes brought forwards for public support or private benevolence, who never merited the encouragement they have obtained.

3. It is great folly in a believer to be afraid of owning his creed; and greater, to be deterred from acting up to it by ridicule : he cannot openly side with the worldly, yet is desirous of evading inquiry, or of concealing his sentiments, respecting religion, in order to escape animadversion. Such pusillanimous conduct, however, not only gives his adversaries cause for triumph; but seldom fails in the end to entail more contempt upon himself. How much better would it be, to face the opponent with a cautious, yet confident, boldness; in the consciousness, that greater is he that is for us, than those who are against us; and careless about the opinion entertained of us for non-conformity to the fashion of this world, seeing that we walk after that of the highest court, which is the heavenly. "Whosoever," saith the Lord Jesus, "shall be ashamed of me and of my word, in this adulterous and sinful generation; of him, also, shall the Son of man DEC. 1823.

be ashamed, when he cometh, in the glory of his Father, with the holy angels."

4. It behoves Christians carefully to avoid the appearance of acting "as men-pleasers;" not but that their behaviour, if in unison with their tenets, must, in most essential points, please men; but that no just ground whatever may be afforded for the charge of a want of sincerity. Nothing pleases a worldling more, than to have the least reason for the assertion, that interest, not principle, is the spring of a Christian's good conversation. Our endeavour should be, to convince all, that we are, indeed, the servants of God, and possess a more steady rule for our guidance, than either the hopes of this world, the spirit of honour, or the bad opinion of cotemporaries, could supply.

5. It is highly impolitic and improper to sneer at, or needlessly to expose, the weaknesses that are to be seen in any not of our own communion. The writer has heard a dissenter blamed, by worldly persons, for inveighing against a minister of the Establishment: and however much we may differ from dissenters, or dissenters from us, we ought ever to recollect, that, if indeed believers, we are engaged in promoting and maintaining the cause of Christ against the common enemy of all true piety; and are, therefore, acting a traitorous part when seduced to join with scoffers. It is, also, exceedingly wrong unnecessarily to make known the frailties and errors of professors, especially of eminent professors. On the contrary, ought to pray for such, who walk not irreproachably; to beseech them, in the spirit of meekness, to look to their ways, and, at any rate, not to publish their failings, unless truth or duty require us to engage in so painful a service.


6. The best of causes might, perhaps, be strengthened, if Chris

3 R

« PreviousContinue »