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that being legal—the other declaring the whole counsel of God. They lay down the law, how such a doctrine or text is to be handled: and if the preacher does not come up to their rule, you may see by their very looks, that he is despised in their eyes.
Reader, are you quite sure that you are not one of such hearers? Do not be offended with the question ; but read on, and see if you can discover any of your own features in the glass that is held before you. Remember, it is not merely having a knowledge of the truth, which will prove you a true Christian. You may know true doctrine from false, and yet be a hypocrite. Turn to Matt. vii. 22, 23. You may not be able to bear doctrine tending to self-righteousness. You may even set your face against it; and yet be no Christian in Christ's eyes. You may go where Christ is preached fully and freely; and you may have a taste for such preaching, and be zealous in your attendance; and yet the Lord, when he cometh, may find you wanting.
The great question is—What has the gospel done for you? What fruit are you bringing forth, in temper, tongue, and life? If the salvation of the blessed Saviour is indeed precious to you, then, I am sure, it has changed you. For, “ if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature," 2 Cor. v. 17. If your love of hearing the gospel comes from the teaching of the Holy Spirit, it will not end in mere hearing. You will go to the house of God, in the spirit of such prayers as these : “ Lord teach me! Lord increase my faith !-Show me thy ways, O Lord, teach me thy paths!—Open mine eyes to see, mine ears to hear, thy truth. Speak to my heart to-day by thy minister," etc. You will hear too, for yourself, and not for others. Instead of saying, “ That did well for neighbour A. I wish such a one had been here to-day: it was a good hit for him," etc.; you will be anxious not to go away without a message from God, though it may be a wounding message, to your own soul. You will not be one thing at church, and another at home : ready to talk and to teach, when you get with those who will listen to you, and who may think you to be somebody ; while at home, with your family, or those who know you well, and whom you cannot well deceive, you are just what you were before you took up religion at all : cross, perhaps, and harsh, and careless of your words, and negligent in family prayer and reading the Bible : careless of the souls around you ; pleasing yourself, instead of seeking the good and the profit of others.
No, if you are a true Christian, you will be so every day, and all the day long. I do not, of course, mean always talking about religion, but always in the spirit of it. Enoch was such a one. “He walked with God." "Noah, Abraham, Job, were such. In the New Testament, Joseph and Mary, Zacharias and
ARE YOU A CHRISTIAN INDEED ?
Jesus-all these “ walked in the fear and love of God.” We do not hear of their being great talkers. But we read of one sitting at the feet of Jesus, hearing his word, Luke x. 39; of another ministering to our blessed Lord, and washing his feet, when the person who invited him seemed half ashamed of him, Luke vii. 36–39; another, taking care of the apostle Paul when in prison, 2 Tim. i. 16, 17; another making garments for the poor, Acts ix. 36–39; others labouring with their hands, that they might not disgrace the gospel, 2 Thess. iii. 7. All seemed to abound in love and good works, and brotherly kindness, and those sweet and pleasant fruits of righteousness, which, after all, are the proofs before men of a Christian indeed. Now, if you are a true disciple of the Lord Jesus Christ, you will be known by some such proofs as these. You will be a Christian in your own house. You will set a holy example as a parent, if you have children: as a master, if you have servants: as a servant, if that is your calling. You will observe the sabbath day, to keep it as a day of holy, happy rest, unto the Lord. Your duties will indeed be your privileges; but they will be no less your obligations. You will be a Christian in the shop, and the market. You will no more dare to cheat, or to take any unfair advantage of those with whom you deal, than you would to rob on the highway. You will, in short, walk as becometh a saint of God. Remember, such-and no less-is, or ought to be the character of every one, who takes upon him the name of Christian. Not religious with the religious, and worldly with the worldly; but acting, speaking, living, as a good soldier of Jesus Christ; not ashamed of your colours or of your Captain : bold and courageous against sin, and yet willing to be trampled upon, and “ counted as the off-scouring of all things,” for the name of your Divine Master.
Now, then, I would ask, are you a Christian indeed? Perhaps you may say, “ Why, yes ; I have never doubted about the matter. Such searching questions may be very well for babes and children in the gospel, but I have known these things long ago. I have built my hopes on Christ, as on a rock, and have nothing to do either with frames, and feelings, and evidences,
This is all law work. True believers have learned to cast it away, and to rejoice only in the finished work of Christ."
But listen for a moment. He who rejoices most in his Saviour, is the man, who is like a little child, most willing to be taught, most sensible of his own ignorance, most watchful, most circumspect. And while he places a full and joyful trust in Jesus, the prayer of the publican is in his heart, “ God be merciful to me a sinner!” Luke xviii. 13.
Dear friends! be not deceived. Take it not too easily for granted that you are a Christian. See that you place a real trust in the full atonement wrought out for you by the sufferings and death of Christ. But see also that you are walking in the blessed steps of his most holy life; remembering, that he who is your sacrifice, is also your pattern; and while he says, “ Come unto me,” he says also, “Learn of me,” Matt. xi. 28, 29.
But to the true Christian ; to him to whom the Spirit witnesses with his spirit, that he is a child of God, and whose works also bear witness to the same, I must also say a word. Be not discouraged at this picture of the mere professor of the gospel. Be not afraid of too firm a confidence in the hope of your salvation. While you exercise a godly jealousy over your own heart, remember your claim to the apostle's confidence: “I know whom I have believed, and am persuaded that he is able to keep that which I have committed to him against that day," 2 Tim. i. 12. “ Cast not away your confidence," Heb. x. 35, because others abuse it. “ Follow on" more and more " to know the Lord.” In doing this, you may indeed be made more deeply sensible of your inward corruptions and short-comings; and this will keep you in the lowly position of a sinner at the feet of the Saviour. At the same time, your faith will grow stronger, your hope more lively, your love warmer, your obedience more complete : glorifying your Father by bringing forth much fruit, John xv. 8. The Lord shall guide thee continually, and satisfy thy soul in drought, and make fat thy bones ; and thou shalt be like a watered garden, and as springs of water, whose waters fail not, Isa. lviii. 11. Thus “ shall an entrance be ministered unto thee abundantly into the everlasting kingdom of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.”
But perhaps you make no claim to the name of a Christian. You boast of being no professor; or even you glory in the shame of living without God in the world.
Hear the word of Him who cannot lie: “If the righteous scarcely be saved, where shall the ungodly and the sinner appear ?" 1 Pet. iv. 18. If many, who shall seek to enter into the kingdom of heaven, shall yet be shut out, Luke xiii. 24, 25, what shall be the doom of those who cast away the fear of God, and whose lives speak what their lips dare not speak, “ We will not have this man to reign over us?” Luke xix. 14.
Oh, then, “ seek the Lord while he may be found; call upon him while he is near: let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts, and let him return unto the Lord, and he will have mercy upon him, and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon," Isa. lv. 6, 7.
Oh that the Lord may dispose you to hear this word of warning, bring you to the footstool of his grace in humble penitence, and enable you to “ believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved !” Acts xvi. 31.
“Then the Spirit said unto Philip, Go near, and join thyself to this chariot. and Fhilip ran thither to him, and heard him read the prophet Esaias, and said, Understandest thou what thou readest? And he said, How can I, except some man should guide me? And he desired Philip that he would come up and sit with him. The place of the Scripture which he read was this, He was led as a sheep to the slaughter; and like a lamb dumb before his shearer, so opened he not his mouth: in his humiliation his judgment was taken away: and who shall declare his generation ? for his life is taken from the earth," Acts viii. 29-33.
SOMETHING TO YOUR ADVANTAGE. In looking over the columns of a newspaper, the reader will often meet with an advertisement to this effect-" If A. B. will call at the office of C. D. he will hear of something to his advantage." The first wish which commonly springs up in the hearts of those who see such an announcement, is that it was addressed to them. No doubt the individuals concerned, when such a gratifying notice first catches their eye, feel a sudden thrill of pleasure, and, deferring all ordinary business, hasten to make themselves acquainted with the particulars of their good fortune.
Reader, waste not a moment's peace of mind in envying those who are thus unexpectedly favoured. You, even you, whatever may be your lot, are thus addressed. There is a fortune, a treasure, an inheritance, in keeping for you—left for you by the will of One who knew and pitied you still under his guardianship, (for though once dead, he lives,) and waiting only your hearty consent, to be possessed and enjoyed. Will you have it? Or having heard of it, will you let the opportunity slip, and lose it for ever?
You probably guess, even at a glance, at the kind of advantage which you are now invited to partake, and, perhaps, with an inward feeling of distaste, you are prompted to throw aside this paper, and to exclaim—"Oh, it is nothing but religion, after all !” Stop, reader! Take care that you do not in your ignorance cast away a thing of untold worth! You have no inclination, then, for religion. How is this? Surely, you are under some grievous mistake as to what it is, what it does, and what it leads to, or the mere thought of it would not thus ruffle your spirit. You must suppose it to be some hard service, or you would not shun it with such determination. Now, listen for a moment, I beseech you, and I will try to convince you, that when God calls us to be religious—to repent and to believe—he calls us to receive “ something to our advantage."
When you were a child, you had your childish pleasures, and you loved them. A whip or a doll made you happy for the time being. What would you give for such trifles now ? Nothing, for they could yield you no enjoyment. You have out-lived them; and you would certainly be disposed to pity the grown-up person who could take delight in such objects of amusement..
Have you ever considered that the pleasures of which you are now most fond will, at some future stage of your existence, cease to yield you the smallest enjoyment? Why, you cannot but be sensible, that God has endowed you with a nature that can derive no lasting gratification from these things. Your tastes are perpetually changing. What you loved in infancy you despised in youth-what you thought all-important in youth, you held cheap in manhood—and as you are to live for ever, do you not see that what you now chiefly desire, and prize most highly, will, as time rolls over you, whether in this world or in the next, appear in its true light of insignificance, and become in your estimation a worthless bauble, as incapable of satisfying your wishes as is now the whip or doll which you once thought such a treasure.
Well, God knows how miserably disappointed we shall be if we stake our eternal well-being upon any such unsatisfying enjoyments. He made us for a higher order of happiness than these things can possibly yield. He would have us love him, for in him there will always be more than enough to love--and, in kindness to us-oh, what unspeakable kindness—he offers himself to us, as an unchanging, unfailing, inexhaustible object of affection.
Reader, you know how much, how entirely, your happiness depends upon what you love.. You have, perhaps, a friend, in whom you take a deep interest—for whom you cherish an ardent affection, with whom you like to be, to whom you