« السابقةمتابعة »
Our blessed Lord positively enjoins us to work out our salvation with fear and trembling; that is, with the greatest apprehension for the consequence of an inactive life; and that for this very obvious reason, because the night cometh, when no man can work; when the duties which it is incumbent on us to fulfil, will be no more prescribed to us for our trial, and when we must give an account of the talents intrusted to us. "All kinds of wishing or willing, that are not strong enough to make us sacrifice what was an hinderance to us in our way to God, pass for nothing." Such good desires are no test of actual faith in Christ. Let us, therefore, no longer hold the truth captive in an unrighteous lukewarmness. Let us listen to what God the Son declares to us in his Gospel, and what he suggests to our conscience by his Spirit. Let us prove the spirit that moves us to discern whether it be of God; and if it be, let nothing interfere with our obedience; and this encouragement we have to obey, that he who doth the will of God (that is, keeps his commandments, strives earnestly to fulfil the law, or brings forth good works-all which expressions signify the same), he shall know of the doctrine whether it be of God. Let us, then, follow the Psalmist's rule (cxliii. 10), who prayed to God not only to teach him his will, but also to teach him to do it: for he that knoweth his master's will,
and doth it not, shall be beaten with many stripes. Teach me to do thy will, for thou art my God; thy spirit is good, lead me into the land of uprightness. Now this rule, my brethren, leads us to a very clear, short, and just conclusion of the whole matter, which it may assist your memory and understanding to repeat in these few words; belief, or faith in Christ, is the chief principle of our holy religion, This, among other articles, is what we promise to believe, at baptism. This faith is the fountain whence every good work must flow, so as to be acceptable to God, because without faith it is impossible to please him, Farther, it is itself said to be the gift of God, and without works this faith is said also to be dead. In other words, there can be no positive demonstration given that we possess true faith, but the holiness of our lives. What then naturally presents itself to our minds upon this view of the case, but to search after and employ the means to get it? What they are, the Psalmist just now declared-prayer to God for it; reading his holy word; following the light of our reason as improved by revelation, and the dictates of conscience, and using that measure of grace and portion of light we have, to the best account. We must ask, seek, and knock (or strive) to obtain it as the pearl of great price; as the one thing needful; as that which is so necessary, that God will in no wise deny
it to them who plead their claim to it, through the sufferings and death of Jesus Christ their Lord. God will hardly prove a less faithful or tender father to his humble and obedient children than men are to their offspring. He has promised, and he cannot lie; and for our support and consolation in our petitions to him, our blessed Lord himself puts this encouraging question (Matt. vii. 11); If ye, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more shall your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to them that ask him? But there is one previous quality requisite to move us to make this petition as we should do, and to render it successful, and that is a deep sense of our wants. We must be convinced of our weak, ness, corruption, and danger, by unregenerated nature; and this, the ordinary gift of perception, and what passes within our own hearts and without in the world, will abundantly prove, if men were but honest in confessing the true state and disposition of their minds, without the grace of God,
Thus have I endeavoured to show you, in the plainest manner, what it is rO BELIEVE-that we must "believe ALL the articles of the Christian "faith ;" and more fully, what is meant by the words CHRISTIAN faith, viz. that it is the faith through which we must live as real Christians here, and by which we shall be accepted and
rewarded as Christ's true disciples hereafter. It is that faith which encourages us to implore the assistance of God's Spirit, and enables us to bring forth the fruits of the Spirit-these are love (or Christian charity), joy, peace, long suffering, gentleness, goodness. If, therefore, we profess to live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit by showing forth our good works; by causing our light to shine before men, that they, no less than we, may glorify our Father who is in heaven. To whom, with the Son and the Holy Spirit, one God in mystical Trinity united, be all praise and dominion for ever and ever. Amen.
Thirdly, that I should keep God's holy will and "commandments, and walk in the same all the days of my life."
MATTHEW, XXVIII. 20.
Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen.
Do not know of any text more proper to place at the head of a discourse upon the necessity of walking in the ordinances and commandments of the Lord blameless, than this, which I made choice of likewise, for my last Lecture upon this same portion of the Catechism. The general exhortation it contains, and it being the language, and indeed the farewell advice of our blessed Master himself, to his disciples, renders it equally applicable to the present occasion. I have, however, extended the text to this Lecture, by adding the latter part of the verse to it, because it contains a promise of power to perform, what I am about to convince you, is absolutely required from us. The words of the