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brink of a never-ending ruin, and could not save themselves, will readily acknowledge the wonders of that wisdom and power which provided a way of escape. Those who were once covetous, sensual, proud, earthlyminded, and those who have gone still farther in iniquity, and were perhaps once drunkards, swearers, sabbath-breakers, or fornicators; such, when converted, and made new creatures in Christ Jesus, can, from their own experience, testify that the Gospel is the power of God.
And wherever such a change is effected, there is salvation begun — there is a blessed token and pledge of future glory. If, Christian Reader, you are trusting only in a crucified Saviour; if you see the excellence and blessedness of his Gospel; if you have felt its efficacy in turning you from your sins, you have in these things cheering and delightful evidences that the Gospel has been to you an ordinance for your salvation; that you are among the saved; that you were chosen in Christ; that you are born of God, sanctified by his Spirit, upheld by his power, and that you shall be brought to his glory.
And who can fully declare the value of this salvation. Even in this life, to have a relief from the guilt and burden of sin; to have sufficient strength afforded us against the power of the enemy; to have the spirit of adoption and the hope of glory, may well gladden the heart in the midst of the greatest temporal sorrows. But eternity, though it will more fully discover the value of this salvation, will never exhaust it. O Christian Reader! to be among the saved at last; to lie in Abraham's bosom; to associate ever with the spirits of just men made perfect; to be free from all sin, and free to all holiness; to be without any curse, pain, or
sorrow; and to be so filled with every blessing as to have, in the expressive language of Scripture, fulness of joy; to see Jesus and ever be with him; to behold God as he is, and know as we are known; boundless, unutterable, ever-enduring, and unalloyed bliss: this is the salvation which God has connected with the faithful preaching and due reception of Christ's word! O Christian Reader! that you and the writer may thus be blessed! Is it not a delightful thought that there are those now living on earth who shall in heavenly glory sing the song, Unto him that loved us, and washed us from our sins in his own blood, and hath made us kings and priests unto God and his Father, to him be glory and dominion for ever and ever! Let us, above all things, seek to be numbered with them; let us pray with David, Remember me, O Lord, with the favour that thou bearest unto thy people.
The practical improvement of this doctrine is obvious and important. The effect which the Gospel has upon you should be A MEANS OF DISCOVERING TO YOU YOUR OWN CHARACTER. In a world like this, where our own hearts are very deceitful, where Satan strives to blind us, and all around is calculated to mislead us, it is of the greatest moment to us to have our real character laid open and shewn to us. Now we have, in the way in which we view the Gospel, a test and touchstone of divine nature, by which we may ascertain we preach Christ crucified; unto the Jews a stumbling-block, and unto the Greeks foolishness; but unto them which are called, both Jews and Greeks, the power of God and the wisdom of God. Let us then enquire, most seriously and most anxiously, as a matter that concerns our eternal welfare, in what way we view the Gospel if it be a stumbling-block, or foolishness,
we are among the lost. If we receive it, on the other hand, as the wisdom of God, and his power has been manifested towards us through it in changing and renewing us, this may give us an assured hope that our character is that of a real disciple of Christ. Let us try and search hereby whose we are and what we are,
We may also learn NOT TO JUDGE OF THE GOSPEL BY THE OPINION OF WORLDLY MEN. True it is that they may be very wise in the things of this world; replenished with literature, genius, and talents; acute, sensible, and shrewd in worldly things; and with all this they may count the Gospel plan of salvation foolishness. But let this guard us against so great a snare ; the Bible says it is foolishness to them that perish. Will you abide by the opinion of those who shall in the great day of judgment be condemned of God, and perish for ever? O no! you can have no wish to follow them to eternal ruin. Let this consideration break the snare which the false judgment of man may spread around you. Who would, with an intelligent mind, in the very face of Scripture, despise the Gospel, at the price of eternal ruin, because it may be lightly thought of by any human being? Christian Reader! the more the wise of this world despise, ridicule, and oppose the Gospel, the dearer let it be to your heart, and the more boldly do you confess it before men.
Never be content till you EXPERIENCE THE SAVING POWER OF THE GOSPEL. As, if you slight and despise the Gospel, you may here see written as with a sun beam, your imminent danger, and discover final doom in words so obvious that they cannot be mistaken; so you may, on the other, discover the appointed method of salvation. Are preaching, hearing, faith, prayer, and salvation, graciously linked together
as means and result; (Rom. x, 13-15.) as God's plan for bringing his sons to glory? value then the words of salvation; let the doctrine of the cross be very precious in your estimation. Meditate on these things. Is hearing the great mean appointed of God for recovering our souls from that state of spiritual death and ruin, that alienation and separation from God in which we are lying by nature, and restoring us to life and favour and communion with God? we should use this means for this end. Are you unconverted? come, looking that the very next sermon may be God's opportunity for your conversion. Are you cold, and lukewarm? attend on his preached word that you may be warmed and enlivened. Are you in a worldly state of mind? go to hear, that your affections may be set on heavenly things. Are you strong in the Lord? still go for that which you still need, the increase of faith, hope, and love. Expect much in the way of God's institution, and you shall not be disappointed. We look too much at the circumstances, and too little at the practical end of the ministry. Let our end and main business be spiritual profit, and to be nourished unto eternal life. Pray for the gift of the Holy Ghost, and so shall the preached Gospel become powerful and efficacious to produce in you faith, and final salvation. And, lest any should be too much discouraged by a fear that because they have hitherto slighted the word, they are already lost, we would add the encouraging remarks, that often where the word has been little attended to at first, (as at Corinth, Acts xviii.) it has been subsequently gladly received. Bishop Jewell says, "God knoweth whom he will bring to be of his fold, and make to hear his voice. Many times he blesseth his word with great increase among them, which at the first despise it, and
entreat cruelly the preachers and messengers thereof." But when the word has not been efficacious, take care that you do not blame God, or his word, or his ordinances, but your own unbelief, (Heb. iv, 2.) and want of upright walking. Micah ii, 7.
Let us be GRATEFUL TO GOD, IF WE HAVE FOUND THE GOSPEL OF CHRIST THE POWER OF GOD TO OUR SALVATION. O how should our hearts be impressed with a sense of his benefits to whom we owe all, and who has bought us at the price of the blood of his dear Son! how should we value that means which he has appointed for conveying his blessings! Let us embrace it more simply and more fully, and adorn it more wholly.
The Presence of Christ the Glory of Christian Assemblies.
IT was a remarkable appeal that Solomon made in
his affecting prayer at the dedication of the templeWill God indeed dwell on the earth? Behold! the heaven and heaven of heavens cannot contain thee; how much less the house that I have builded! 1 Kings viii, 27. This was an instance of divine condescension and favour that could not be sufficiently admired and celebrated. The same condescending goodness is manifested in Christian Assemblies. To them the presence of the Lord God, our Saviour, is promised, and we may ask with admiration, Does he who is the Lord of Glory,