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these things, been induced to take the advantage of our kingdom into serious consideration, they will soon perceive the excellence of our other acquirements also, and confess, that, altogether, fellow.citizenship with us is supremely desireable.
We are now prepared for a statement, and brief illustration, of the principal of those virtues in the cultivation of which the Christian bears favourable witness before the world for the kingdom of his Redeemer.
1. At the head of these I rank one which has scarcely a place in the ethics of the world; but to which, it is one of the boasts of Christianity, to assign prominence in its system of morality—it is the virtue of Cheerfulness. I am earnest to have you persuaded, brethren, that it is the first of our duties to entertain such views of the character of God as fill the heart with peace, serenity, contentment, and gladness: so that, even in the midst of bereavement, destitution, and pain, we may possess our souls in patience, and, should we weep, mingle smiles with our tears. The importance and necessity of this for recommending the kingdom of Christ effectually to the world will appear more strikingly, when we consider how much a contrary deportment prejudizes irreligious men against our faith. How much ground do not the darkened countenances, and manifested restlessness and dispeace of conscience of many professors, give to a careless and unbelieving generation for saying, when they are solicited to enter the Redeemer's church-No, we shall not be so unwise as to commit ourselves to that abode of darkness and anguish; we are happier where we are ! In the case of others, who were joyful in times of prosperity, but who have sunk down dispirited and broken-hearted under adversity, have not unbelievers again reason for saying“We also can be joyful when the world goes well with us; what we need is something which will sustain our minds should we be visited with
adversity-when we may be bereaved of our children, when our trade may decay, when our health may be impaired, or when our characters may be wounded : but, so far as these things are concerned, we do not see that Christians have any advantage above others; their tears are as bitter, their sighs as deep, their groans as heavy, and their despair is as dark; so that their religion is only an encumbrance to them when it shines, without being any protection to them when it stoi ms? Can it be denied, my brethren, that irreligious men have frequently grounds for speaking in this manner? And is it not as much a matter of sin as lamentation that they should have any opportunity of doing so? How full of guilt is our conduct, when at any time the cause of Christ is thus blasphemed because of our unbelief; as if there were no profit, no consolation to be found in Him; as if men would be as well without Him; as if bis kingdom were a wilderness in wbich no fruit, no refreshing streame, could be found! Where any of us may have been guilty, in times past, of this great misdemeanour ; or are conscious of their principles being so infirm, that, in the event of the visitation of evil days, they would be in danger of falling into the sin, let them have the evil presently remedied. Let them have it remedied by that Faith which places an undoubting reliance on the truth of these representations of loving-kindness and mercy in wbich we are lessoned in the kingdom of Christ; so that, whether it be Summer or Winter, they shall ever have God before their mind as their Friend and Guardian, superintending all things for their everlasting welfare. My brethren, Christ demands of us that we honour Him, by cherishing this consolatory view of his father. But, that to which I would have your attention especially directed at present is, that worldly men justly claim of us, that, before we urge them to enter the church, we afford them evidence, in our own comfortableness, that they would be benefited by placing themselves under the government of our King : other. wise we insult them. Oh for more of this living advocacy of the Christian cause ! We would be content, though we should lose a little of our logical and metaphysical demonstrations, if we were given in its place something more of that exemplified power of faith, under which a man so conducts himself, that the world is compelled, in admiration of his character, to exclaim, Behold, how he is never disconcerted, ever calm, always content, with a constant expression of pleasedness in his countenance! Even when he weeps over the grave of his child, you may see he is a happy man! Brethren, let us be mirthful; not by fits and starts, as worldlings are, but permanently; so that, from the prevailing darkness and dissatisfaction of their condition, they may be induced to take refuge in our ever-joyful company.
6. There be many that
say, Who will show us any good ? Lord, lift thou
the light of thy countenance upon us ! Thou hast put more gladness in our hearts than in the time that their corn and wine abounded.-For we have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear; but we have received the spirit of Adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father.—The Lord is our strength and song, and is become our salvation. The voice of rejoicing is in the tabernacles of the righteous: the right hand of the Lord doeth valiantly." Brethren, let us open our hearts to receive the Lord's consolation. Let us permit Him to make us glad, if not in a spirit of self-love, with a view to our own profit, in a spirit of piety, that He may be honoured in us. Let us not be satisfied with ourselves till we can say-Come and hear, all ye
that fear God, and also all ye that fear Him not, and we will declare what He hath done for us. Not till this light of comfortableness and joy shine in us before men, so that they may glorify our Father who is in heaven, do we fulfil our high office as Witnesses for his Son. We are frequently examined by the Ministers of Religion of the state of our contrition of heart and consciousness of sin; and it is right that as Ministers of
the Law they sbould thus exercise us; but, as being Ministers of the Gospel also, it were surely more consistent did they examine us searchingly, more than many of them do, of the state of our rejoicing in the Faith.*
2. In the second place; as practical Witness-bearers for Cbrist and his kingdom, it is necessary we be characterized by Personal Purity. Degenerate though mankind are, the voice of the majority is still raised in condemnation against the lewd man and the drunkard: and that system will ever be pronounced the best, which is seen to be most efficient in securing men against the nuisance and wrongs of either of
I cannot abstain from appending a Note at this point. I hold neither the doctrine, that assurance of personal salvation is of the essence of faith; nor the doctrine, that such absolute assurance is frequently characteristic of believers. But it needs not that a man have embraced either of these two opinions to make him consistent in wondering at the inconsistency of some, who, when they professedly pray in the name of a Christian Church, shall, Sabbath after Sabbath, and even at the sanctifying (1 use the expression considerately) of the bread and wine of the Supper, shape their confessions of sinfulness precisely as they would do for a company of infidels; and pray, that they all may be “shut up to the cry” What shall we do to be saved! Let it not be said that to pray as if all were already Christians, might cherish the delusion of some formalists. Make it a Christian's prayer, and there will be little danger of that. At all events, there is greater danger of cherishing delusion, when, praying professedly in the name of a church, you apply descriptions to them which are applicable only to infidels. The formalist may reason with himself, My feelings and conduct do not appear to be worse than those of my neighbours. The late Mr. Sheriff pursued an admirable plan, and most worthy of being imitated, when praying in a promiscuous meeting. He commenced, “We present, O God, who are thy Son's disciples.” And, having offered up adoration and thanksgiving, and made confession of weakness of faith, and coldness of love, &c. suitable for Christians to make, he then proceeded, “ We now pray for our unbelieving neighbours.” This is not refining. It is only common-sense.
these two most despicable and, pestilent characters. Now, mark carefully, brethren, that, in order to our. Witness-bearing at this point being effectual, our sobriety and chastity must be of a very decided nature. No, not even once in the twelvemonths, can it be permitted that one of Christ's Witness-bearers be degraded by the confused head and stammering tongue even of incipient intoxication. Can it? Shall any
presume to say, that it is permissible for him to conduct bimself in such a manner, that a worldling might retire from his company to report, that Christians appear to have their Master's license for being occasionally tipsy? When a man has sunk under temptation by which he has been unawares overtaken-after the transgression has been committed—he may calculate, with assurance, that he will find the Lord gracious to forgive, in returning with a penitent confession of his guilt. But, that man is nigh unto destruction who, in anticipation of the carousal, shall premeditately argue with his conscience, that the Redeemer's law admits at a time of a little excess, and so joins the company of the revellers. And in respect of Lewdness—even the roving look cannot be tolerated; and much less the licentious word, and immodest piece of apparel. Otherwise, there are thousands of worldly persons who will be warranted to plead, that we are in no respect superior to them; that they are already our equals; that in entering the kingdom of Christ they would gain no exaltation—so that they need not trouble themselves with making any change. “Already our equals! did I say? May the Lord teach us repentance, and be merciful to us! There are some worldly men who, in the above respects, and they are important respects, so far excel some who arrogate to themselves the Christian name, that it would be no presumption of them to address these “ communicants,” as they are called, in some such manner as this:-Ye had better leave the church, where your impurity is tolerated; and come and be disciplined, in