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our day,” let us " be stedfast, immovable, and always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as we know that our labour shall not be in vain in the Lord”h-] 3. As an incentive to vigilance
[Since it is “God who gives us both to will and to do, and that entirely of his own good pleasure," we must of necessity be altogether dependent on him; if he keep us, we shall stand: if he leave us, we shall fall--Now God is a jealous God; and will surely manifest his displeasure if we walk unwatchfully before him—We may easily “grieve his Spirit;”i yea, if we continue in wilful habits of neglect, or in any allowed sin, we may“ quench his Spirit;" for he has warned us that "his Spirit shall not alway strive with man;" and that if we rebel, and vex his holy Spirit, he will turn, and become our enemy”m_The_Israelites, who, notwithstanding they were brought out of Egypt, and fed with manna from heaven, perished in the wilderness, are set forth as examples to us"-And to many under temporal or spiritual afflictions may that pungent question be addressed, “Hast thou not procured this to thyself, in that thou hast forsaken the Lord, when he led thee by the way?"0_Well may this consideration stir us up to watchfulness and circumspection, lest by intermitting our labours, and relaxing our exertions in the work of our salvation, we bring upon ourselves his heavy displeasureP---] From hence we may SEE 1. The beauty and harmony of scripture doctrines
[Our entire dependence on divine grace, together with the absolute sovereignty of God in the distribution of his favours, are here clearly stated-Yet the necessity of our working out our own salvation is as strongly declared, as if every thing depended on our own efforts-Now these are often set in opposition to each other, as though they were contrary and inconsistent doctrines—But God sees no inconsistency in them; nor shall we, if we only once learn to receive the scriptures with the simplicity of little children, instead of presuming to be wise above what is written_On the contrary, the two doctrines are perfectly harmonious; nor is there any stronger argument for exertions on our part, than the freeness and sufficiency of God's grace-Let us not then set altar against altar, and doctrine against doctrine, but join in our experience those things which God has indissolubly united, and which are equally essential to our eternal welfare--]
hi Cor. xv. 58,
i Eph. iv. 30. k 1 Thess. v. 19.
2. The folly of the excuses which men urge in jus: tification of their own supineness
[One says, It is in vain for me to attempt working, unless God work in me both to will and to do what he commandsBut will any man forbear to plough and sow his ground, because he cannot insure an harvest -- We are to work out our salvation to the utmost of our power, and to call upon God for all necessary assistance: it is in activity, and not in sloth, that we are to expect his aid; “ Awake, thou that sleepest, and arise from the dead; and Christ will give thee light:” and if we will not put forth the little strength we have, we must reap to all eternity the bitter fruits of our own supineness
Another says, I need not concern myself much about the present state of my soul; for if God has ordained me to life, I shall live; and if he has begun the good work in me, he will carry it on-But to what purpose has God enjoined fear and trembling, if we are at liberty to indulge such a presumptuous confidence as this? - It is true, that “God will keep the feet of his saints;” but it is by fear and trembling that he will keep them; his injunctions are, “Be not high-minded, but fear." And, “Let him that thinketh he standeth take heed lest he fall"
Let not then the doctrines of grace be so perverted and abused: but let us exert ourselves, as if we could do all; and depend on God, as knowing that, without him, we can do nothing-] 3. The firmness of the believer's hopes
(While the believer is maintaining continual watchfulness and care, he still enjoys peace in his soul, and oftentimes “a full assurance of hope”-But on what is his hope founded? Is it on his own resolution, zeal, and stedfastness? Nothing is further from his mind: he relies on the sovereignty, the power, and the faithfulness of his God-God's grace is his own, and he disposes of it according to his own good pleasure; therefore the believer, while he feels himself the most unworthy of the human race, hopes that “ God will shew forth the exceeding riches of his grace in acts of kindness towards him”-“God is able to keep him from falling; and therefore the believer says, “I know in whom I have believed, that he is able to keep that which I have committed to him"-And lastly, God has confirmed his promise with an oath; and therefore they who have fled for refuge to the Lord Jesus, have strong consolation; because it is impossible for God to lie; and he is faithful who hath promised Thus we see that the weakest Christian stands on a rock, which defies all the storms and
9 Rom. xi. 20. * 2 Tim. i. 19,
ri Cor. x. 12.
Heb. vi. 17, 18.
tempests that ever can assail it—“ Let us then be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might,” and look to him to “ fulfil in us all the good pleasure of his will,” and to “preserve us blameless unto his heavenly kingdom"-]
CCCCXLIV. AGAINST CONFORMITY TO THE WORLD.
Rom. xii. 2. Be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your minds, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect will of God.
THE morality, no less than the doctrines, of the gospel far excels the boasted inventions of philosophyThere is not one principle in the human heart, or one action of our lives, which is not depraved by sinThe whole system of man's conduct is deranged; and to rectify it in all its parts, is the scope of that revelation which God has given us--The inspired writers are not satisfied with lopping off a few branches; they strike at the root of all sin; and labour to bring us back to that state of allegiance to our Maker from which we are fallen-This is peculiarly observable in the exhortation before us, in explaining which we shall shew I. What is that conformity to the world which we are
to avoid Doubtless there is a degree of conformity to the world which is necessary, if we would not render ourselves perfectly ridiculous and absurd: but there are limits, beyond which we ought not to go-To mark out those limits we may observe, that we should not be conformed to l 1. Its company and condnet
[We cannot wholly avoid worldly company; for “then we must needs go out of the world:” but we surely should not choose such for our companions; and much less form an indissoluble alliance with them. If we ourselves be spiritual, it is dot possible that we should enjoy the society of a carnal person, because his views, desires, and pursuits must of necessity be as opposite to ours as darkness is to lighth-By forming a
b2 Cor. vi, 14-17.
a 1. Cor. vii. 39. “ onliz in the Lord.” VOL. IV.
connexion with such persons; what can be expected but that we should be enticed to imitáte their conduct? - And though we commit no flagrant evil, we are assured, that while we are walking according to the course of this world, we walk after the will of Satan and not of God-] 2. Its maxims and principles
[According to the established maxims of the world, we should seek above all things the favour and esteem of men; we should avoid every thing that may make us appear singular; and on no account testify our disapprobation of any practice that is sanctioned by general custom-But how do such principles accord with the holy scriptures? In them we are told that, if we make it our grand aim to please men, we cannot be the servants of Jesus Christ:d and, if we have attained that object, instead of congratulating ourselves upon our success, we have reason to tremble on account of the woe denounced against use-Instead of dreading a necessary singularity, we are required to shine as lights in a dark world, and not only to have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but faithfully to reprove them. We are to be armed with a steady determination to live the rest of our time, not to the lusts of men, but to the will of God"-] 3. Its spirit and temper
[The spirit of the world altogether consists in self-seeking, self-pleasing, self-confidence, and self-complacency; nor can any thing be more abhorrent from a Christian state than such a disposition as this-We are not to be resting satisfied with present attainments, or studying how much we can please the flesh without forfeiting the favour of God; but are rather to be pressing forward towards perfection without at all regarding the loss or pain we may be called to undergo in the prosecution of our duty. How hateful a want of such an holy resolution is, may be seen in the reply which our Lord made to Peter, who would have dissuaded him from exposing himself to the trials he had predicted; “Get thee behind me Satan; for thou savourest not the things that be of God, but those that be of men.”"]
Further light will be reflected on this subject by considering 11. Wherein consists that transformation of soul that
is opposed to it
Eph. ii. 2.
d Gal. i. 10. f Phil. ii, 15.
& Eph. v. 11. i Acts xx. 24. & xxi. 13.
c Luke vi. 26. bi Petjy, 2. k Matt. svi. 23
The Christian is “a new creature; old things are passed away; and all things are become new:” according to the proficiency'he has made, he conforms himself to 1. Other principles
[The worldly man knows no higher principle than selflove: whatever be his subordinate motives of action, all may be traced up to this—But they who are partakers of the gospel salvation, are under the influence of a far nobler principle, the love of Christ: the thought of Christ having died for them, fills their hearts with admiration and gratitude: it inspires them with an ardent desire to testify their sense of his kindness; and forms a powerful incentive to holy actionsThis is attested by St. Paul;' and it constitutes a most essential part of that transformation of soul, which characterizes the true Christian-Subordinate motives indeed a believer may feel: but a desire of pleasing and honouring God, and a fear of dishonouring or displeasing him, will operate with the greatest force; and that too, in opposition to carnal considerations, no less than in aid of them~]. 2. Other rules
[The fashion of the world is the standard by which men in general regulate their conduct-But the Christian takes the word of God for his guide, and the example of Christ for his pattern; and, instead of reducing the rule to his practice, he endeavours to elevate his practice to the rule-He brings every thing “ to the law and to the testimony;" and a plain declaration, or command, of God will be more to him than any precepts of men, or than the example of the whole universe It is his ambition to " walk as Christ walked;" and though he knows that he can never attain the measure of his perfection, yet he strives incessantly to follow the pattern of it, that so he may be perfect even as his Father that is in heaven is perfectm-] 3. Other ends
[A Christian would not be content with ordering his actions aright, even if he could arrive at the highest degress of holiness, unless he had also the testimony of his conscience that he sought, not his own glory, but the glory of God: having been “bought with a price,” he is conscious that he is “not his own,” and that consequently he “ought not to live unto himself, but unto him that died for him” He feels that, if in any thing he consult merely his own honour or interest, he so far withholds from God the honour due unto his name; and
1 2 Cor. v. 14, 15.
m Matt. v. 48.