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to his house without being justified in the eyes of God, though he was so pure and perfect in his own eyes.
In the great day of account, every mouth will be stopped, and all the world will become guilty before God. Self-righteousness will then be silenced; and the folly of looking to an amiable disposition, good intentions, or harmless and innocent lives for justification, will be made evident. The one question, 'Have we, as we have been commanded, loved God with all our hearts, and served Him with all our strength?' will be quite enough. There is but one answer which any man or woman can give to this question; and that answer will settle the question of human merit and deserving, and put that matter at rest for ever and ever.
Let me counsel such, to seek an acquaintance with a better righteousness than that which they now possess, and to trust the salvation of their souls into hands more able than their own to procure it for them. Christ is ready and willing to undertake the business. He has brought in a perfect righteousness, the benefit of which, if they will believe on Him, will belong to them, as much as if it were their own; and He that scrupled not and hesitated not to wash the feet of His disciples, will not refuse to wash the heart of any penitent and returning sinner.
"There is a fountain filled with blood,
Be washed there, and you are clean; and "though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be white as snow;
and though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool."
There are others, who are sensible of the badness of their hearts, who have desired that Christ would wash them, and who hope that He has done so in part at least. Let such recollect, that though they have ceased to be enemies to God, they have not ceased to be sinners, nor will they, till they have parted with their body of sin, and got out of this sinful world. And daily uncleanness will require daily washing. The more the Christian grows in self-knowledge, the more frequently and the more thoroughly he will see it necessary to be washed. If a man finds it necessary to wash his face and hands very frequently in order to keep them clean, how much more necessary is it for Christ to wash our hearts frequently, to keep them clean!
Such persons among us as are acquainted with gardening, will know, that they may have their flower-beds, as they suppose, quite free from weeds and in very good order one day, and a day or two after may go and find a full crop of weeds in the very spot they seemed to have left thoroughly cleaned, and where not one was then to be found. And just so every Christian finds it with his own heart; clean, as he supposes, one day-grace all powerful and victorious-and foul and filthy with sin the next, so that he is ready to doubt whether grace has ever been at work there at all. And what should this teach him? That to-day's grace will not answer to-morrow's demand. There must be
a fresh supply every day. Grace is like the manna on which the children of Israel lived in the wilderness, which would not keep, and was spoilt if not used the very same day on which it was gathered.
Let us lay up in our hearts this one short but important lesson, from the subject we have been considering That the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ is absolutely necessary to make us Christians, and that it is equally necessary to keep us Christians; that without it we can never enter upon the narrow way which leadeth unto life, nor continue therein, when we have entered upon it.
1 KINGS Xvii. 6.
And the ravens brought him bread and flesh in the morning, and bread and flesh in the evening; and he drank of the brook."
ELIJAH, concerning whom the Text speaks, seems to have been a very remarkable person. We do not indeed read any thing about his fortune-or his rank-or his wit and learning. He was not remarkable for any of these things, but for his devotion of heart and life to the service of God, and the many gifts and graces which it pleased the Almighty to bestow upon him.
It is the religion of Elijah which is so remarkable. He was one of those who have endured persecution and affliction for righteousness' sake; who have fought their way into the kingdom of God through many and great enemies and dangers; and have not counted even their lives dear unto them, that they might win Christ, and be found of Him.
And the religion of Elijah is the more remarkable, considering the times in which he lived, and the people among whom he dwelt. He lived in times of great spiritual darkness and ignorance, and amongst a very ungodly and unbelieving people. He seems not to have known that there was
another religious and godly man in all the land beside himself; and in fact there were but few. All the rest of the people had departed from the service of the true God, and served the idol Baal. This was the miserable spiritual state of the Israelites when Elijah lived. He was a light shining in a very dark place indeed; a man who minded his eternal interests, and loved and served God, in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation.
And if the times in which we live, are similar to those in which this good man lived-if sin and ungodliness and irreligion are in fashion in our day--and men who value their souls, and are in earnest in seeking their salvation, are not many in number, and not much thought of, but rather despised and contemned; we should set before our eyes the example of Elijah, and pray that we may have grace given us not to follow the multitude to do evil, but to walk in the narrow way of life, however few may be our companions therein.
And if any one says, 'Yes, but Elijah was such a great and good man, I shall never be like him.' Let me ask, Why not? Elijah was no angel. There was nothing supernatural or superhuman about him. Hear what the apostle James says of him:-"Elias was a man (a poor, sinful, weak, ignorant, guilty creature, like ourselves,) subject to like passions as we are;" with all the sinful propensities and inclinations and lusts and appetites that we have. And the same Almighty grace which made this poor sinner such an eminent saint, is able to make the weakest and vilest of us a child of God and an inheritor of the kingdom of heaven.
We shall consider,