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when his soul is renewed ? Has he never another avaricious desire ? He has many ; but he does not suffer them to prevail; he will not gratify them; he positively opposes them; that is the change that has taken place. The same train of remark may be made of other evil dispositions. Pride is not indulged but mortified, as all the affections and lusts of the flesh.
Conversion does not put a man out of the reach of temptation. There is yet something left in the soul, which is disposed to listen to it and yield to it. Now the first rule is, fly temptation, if you can with propriety, (a rule that regulates very few; for many think it cowardly, and others are presumptuously confident in their strength to resist it.) If it cannot be evaded, then the second rule is, face it and resist it, depending on invisible and almighty grace.
The Apostle in Hebrews speaks of the sin that doth most easily beset us; or, as it might more literally be rendered, the well-circumstanced sin. And it is a matter of experience with us all, that there are sins into which we more readily fall than into others, and that some species of temptation make a more effectual appeal to us than others do. Let special attention be directed to these, and peculiar defences reared up against them.
8. Sensual indulgence is a formidable foe to growth in grace; and, when carried far, is incompatible with its existence. Hence the necessity of abstinence and self-denial, without which, in some measure, piety can have no existence, and, without the practice of which, in a very considerable degree,emi
nence in piety, we believe, was never attained. “If any man will come after me, let him deny himself. Mortify, therefore, your members which are on the earth.” There is a kind of evil that goes not out but by fasting and prayer. The lover of pleasure cannot be a lover of God. The man who makes the multiplication of agreeable sensations his chief study, how dwelleth the spirit of Christ in him!
9. The love of the world is another enemy to holiriess. “Love not the world, neither the things therein. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him.” There is a wonderful moral efficiency in the cross of Christ to destroy this inordinate affection. “God forbid that I should glory save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by which the world is crucified unto me, and I unto the world.”
10. Finally, the promises exert a sanctifying influence, when contemplated and applied. Peter writes,
Whereby are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises, that by these ye might be partakers of the divine nature."
I might multiply particulars; but I have said enough for this once. Let me recapitulate; first, repent and be converted; become good. Then, feed the soul with its appropriate food ; exercise gracious dispositions; pray; watch ; believe; strive against sin; fly or resist temptation ; ascertain and combat more strenuously the besetting sin; deny thyself; gaze on the cross; contemplate the promises; and thus grow in grace.
I intended to discourse at some length on the motives which should induce us to employ these means
of growing in grace; but I can only mention them, reserving it to some future occasion to enlarge upon them. They are these.
The fact that you have as yet made such small attainments in religion ; your obvious and most alarming inferiority to the saints of the Old and New Testaments.
The necessity of making progress in grace as an evidence of the reality of grace in you.
The auspicious influence which an increase of personal holiness would have in promoting your comfort and happiness, and in increasing your usefulness also.
The fact that the reward of glory hereafter will be in proportion to the measure of grace here.
The accomplishment of the grand design of the death of Christ, which was that he might redeem his people from all iniquity, and save them from their sins.
The glory of God, for herein is he glorified, that ye bear much fruit.
Your conscious unfitness, even in your regenerate state, to meet God, and to pass into the society of heaven.
The shortness of time and the uncertainty of life, earth being the place appointed, and life the time for making this improvement.
Each of these considerations has great weight; together, they bear down all the considerations that can be urged in favor of any other course. Christians, I commend them to your remembrance and meditation; and I charge you “grow in grace ;' follow holiness ; cultivate the soul. Let us go on to
perfection. As he that has called us is holy, so be ye holy in all manner of conversation. Be ye perfect, as your Father in heaven is perfect. Awake to righteousness and sin not.
Now, with one argument, a fortiori'it is called technically, we conclude.
If there be so much reason why they who are good should become better, how much more that they who are in the Gospel sense, cvil, should become good evangelically? Nay, mure, that they who are continually becoming worse and worse, (as it was shown in the discourse already referred to, that all unregenerate persons are,) should immediately arrest themselves and make no more progress in evil, but turn and take an opposite course. By this time, should you not have begun to be holy? should you not at least have repented ? should you not have turned your attention to the subject of religion ? It is high time, believe me. Believe me, your character requires immediate attention ; your soul is suffering seriously, fatally for want of it. You are neglecting the most momentous concerns; you are hazarding the most important interests ; you are running the risk of losing yourselves forever. It is time to awake, and inquire and exert yourselves. Awake thou that sleepest. Woe to you that are at ease in Zion. Know ye not that the kingdom of heaven suffereth violence, and the violent take it by force ? Strive to enter in at the strait gate. Except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish.
May God bless his word to your good and his own glory. Amen.
Wherefore hast thou made all men in vain ?—Psalm 1xxxix. 47.
The latter part of this psalm is of a deeply tragic
After reviewing the promises of the covenant, which God had made with David and his house, and his former merciful dealings with them, the writer refers in a very pathetic manner to the present afflicted state of the kingdom and the royal family, with earnest prayers and expostulations to God on account of it. He finds it difficult to reconcile the providences of God with his covenanted promises, and his known perfections. " Lord where are thy former loving kindnesses which thou swearest unto David in thy truth ?" And, in the same desponding state of mind, he asks not merely in reference to Israel, but in view of the afflicted and mortal condition of all mankind, "Wherefore hast thou made all men in vain ?" There may appear to you to be a great deal of boldness and not a little impiety discovered in this interrogation of the Psalmist, in which he charges God with having made this race in vain, and calls upon him to give his reasons for having done so.
But the writer meant not to make this impression. He does not mean to say that God has actually created men unto vanity, but only that there