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When the Almighty created the angels in heaven, and man in paradise, he endued them with powers suited to their distinctive degrees of excellence.
Both were formed holy, and consequently happy.
All nature proclaims the benevolence of deity; the unbounded goodness of Jehovah.
The moral law emanated from the love of God. This law was stamped upon the heart of Adam, when in a state of innocence. It is a transcript of the divine mind; holy, just, and good.
When man sinned, he broke the law of love. He fell under its curse. To redeem him from this wretched state, Jesus, the Son of God, assumed our mortal nature; expiated our guilt, and brought in an everlasting righteousness. He burst the bars of death. He ascended up on high; and reigns the sovereign Lord of angels and of men.
When the “royal law" of love was broken in paradise, how soon did Adam's first-born imbrue his hand in a brother's blood ! Violence overspread the earth with awful rapidity; till God, in righteous judgment swept the guilty rebels from the earth, by a tremendous flood of waters.
Every succeeding age has been marked by mi. series of every name, all flowing from one common
e-an evil heart of unbelief. Sin is the cause of misery, and sin originates with man.
If it be asked, what is the true cause of man's inability to love and serve God ? May we not answer, a criminal indisposition of heart so to do. It is not that man cannot love God, from a natural incapacity, arising from a total destitution of understanding, will, and affections; but rather that he will not, owing to a deep rooted enmity against the holy character and commands of God.
This aversion of the heart from God, constitutes the chief guilt of man. Man is a responsible being,
and must render an account to God, from whom he receives all his powers, for the abuse of those talents committed to his trust. He can love the world : he can love sensual delights; he can love riches and honours, yea, every thing which tends to gratify his passions, and to exalt him in his own eyes, or in the estimation of others. He has a will to choose what is pleasing to his animal appetites ; and to refuse what is painful or distasteful to him. He has an understanding to judge upon worldly matters; and a quick eye to discover the path to temporal advancement. He finds his hopes and fears, his joys and griefs, his love and hatred, brought into continual exercise with the ever-varying events of life.
Hence man does not labour under a natural incapacity. His inability is altogether of a moral kind. Sin has darkened and corrupted all the higher faculties of the soul ; so that now, “the world by wisdom knows not God." “ Men choose darkness rather than light, because their deeds are evil ;" for “the carnal mind is enmity against God.”
This wrong state of the heart, this evil bias of the soul, this radical corruption of our nature, is universal. It spreads itself through the whole human race, without exception ; for all are born in sin ; all are by nature the children of wrath, and the heirs of hell.
So powerful is this innate evil, this natural indisposedness of the heart towards God, that neither reason, conscience, nor philosophy can remove it.
God alone can turn the heart of the sinner to himself. The language of divine revelation is : “ thou hast destroyed thyself, but in me is thine help.”
Whilst therefore in deepest self-abasement we bear the burden of our guilt, and acknowledge that we have destroyed ourselves; we must ascribe all the
glory of our salvation to omnipotent love, in whom our help is found ? and say, with the grateful Psalmist : “ Not unto us, 0 ! Lord, not unto us, but unto * thy name, give the glory for thy mercy and for thy truth's sake.”
The whole human race must soon stand before the judgment seat of Christ. No plea will then be accepted in arrest of judgment. In that awful day, every mouth shall be stopped, and all the world will become guilty before God: “for whatsoever a map soweth, that shall he also reap."
From this view of our fallen state, we may scripturally conclude, that sinners, if left to themselves, would never turn to God. And hence we see the blessedness and necessity of that grace which turn
. eth us from darkness unto light, and from the power of Satan unto God.
It is a true saying of St. Augustine, that without free-will there could be no condemnation ; and without free grace there could be no salvation.
But the voice of sovereign love declares to the great Melchisedec: "thy people shall be willing in the day of thy power." Ps. cx.
Here is set forth the power of God; the persons on whom this power is exerted ; and the blessed effects of it upon their souls. This power is the power of God unto salvation. When he works, who can let it? It is convincing power, converting power, sustaining power. O! that this divine power, this ENERGY OF LOVE may be felt in every soul. Lord, may I feel it in mine.
But on whom is this power exerted ?
When we view the whole human race sunk in sin and misery, in a state of open rebellion against the majesty of heaven, where shall we find his people?" The very words, they shall be willing ;" imply, that they were not always so. Prior to this
great change, they were enemies in their minds by wicked works.”
They are his people" in purpose and grace ; chosen in Christ before the foundation of the world, that they should be holy and without blame before him in love; predestinated to be conformed to the image of his Son.
When Paul was at Corinth, the Lord appeared to his persecuted servant and said : “ Be not afraid, but speak; hold not thy peace, for I am with thee, and no man shall set on thee to hurt thee, for I have MUCH PEOPLE in this city.”
0! that my proud heart could submit to receive salvation as the free gift of unmerited mercy.
Lord, make me willing in the day of thy power, to yield myself unto thee, a living sacrifice, as my most reasonable service.
We see what is the effect produced by this power on the minds of “his people.” “They shall be willing"-willing to receive Christ-willing to suffer for Christ-willing to give up all for Christ. This change in their will, is not effected by any natural effort of their own, or by the moral suasion of others; but solely by the power of God, through the instrumentality of the Gospel.
“ I am not ashamed of the Gospel of Christ,” wrote the apostle to the Romans, “ for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth.” Those favoured souls, who are thus made willing in the day of God's power, are not compelled by an unwelcome force to embrace salvation; but are sweetly and lovingly inclined, through the soft influences of heavenly grace, to choose, delight in, and appreciate the work and service of Emanuel. They are made willing. Their whole heart goes forth towards the Saviour, as when Jesus said to Levi at the receipt of custom: “Follow me." They love
the Lord Jesus Christ in sincerity. They embrace him as their only Saviour_his precepts as their only rule—his promises as their only support—his cross as their only glory-his righteousness as their only boast—his people as their only friends-his heaven as their only home.-0! what a change ! Lord, may I long, and pant, and labour after this blessedness. Stir up my soul to seek it more and more.
I have here an evidence to judge of my own character. Thy people shall be willing.” If then I belong to this happy number, I must be willing to be saved on God's terms; to delight in his salvation, to choose his ways. Do I feel my will subdued, and cheerfully inclined to embrace, in humble faith, the whole revelation of mercy, as made known to me through a crucified Jesus ? Lord, put forth thy mighty grace. Let this very day be the day of thy power.
To-morrow may find me in the world of spirits. O! may I now be willing to be wholly thine ; that every succeeding hour may only increase my willingness to do and suffer thy whole righteous will.
How different is earth to heaven! Here, an awful disinclination of heart to love God, is discoverable in all the fallen children of Adam. Even the regenerate feel with grief this hated deadness of soul to God. My soul cleaveth unto the dust,” was the lamentation ; “ quicken thou me, according to thy word,” was the fervent prayer of David.
In heaven, all is governed by the sweet constraining principle of pure, undivided love. Were a soul to leave this world under the influence of alienated affections ; how could such a soul be either meet for, or happy in that blessed place, where every note is harmony, and every heart is love.
Reason, even, in its present beclouded state, must see the unfitness of such a soul for glory; when that