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trition of soul, it is this. Apostacy is not, like some other offences, the act of inexperience or surprise. It is a sin of deliberation and knowledge, It is the willing abandonment of a God, whose mercy you have known; and the contempt of happiness, whose worth you have tried. Upon such offenders, therefore, if upon any, we may urge the language of Scripture; "Repent, if perhaps" thy sin "may be forgiven"-" repent, and be converted, that your sin may be blotted out"-" turn ye unto the Lord with all your heart, and with fasting, and weeping, and with mourning; rend your hearts-and turn to the Lord your God." Live not willingly for an hour in a state which is the immediate prelude to destruction." Escape for your life," when the storm of ruin is beginning to break over you.
But the Ephesians are also counselled in the text to "do their first works."-One of the chief causes of decay in religion, is the forgetting that the means necessary for first bringing us to God, are no less essential for retaining us steadily and consistently in his service. "To watch and to pray," was no less the duty of the disciples when they had "left all for Christ," than when they first approached his presence, and sought his pardon and love. You are, then, in this sense, to "do your first works." Go to the same " fountain" to be washed from your guilt, and to the same Spirit to be healed of your corruption. Humble yourself, with the same prostration of soul as in the very infancy of religion. Pray as intensely, watch as anxiously, as when you first planted your foot on the threshold of the temple of God.-But the text may possibly design something further. One way of returning to God, is, by the aid of his Spirit, to act as though we had returned. The heart commonly misleads the practice, but it will sometimes follow it; its sincere endeavour to obey will be blessed by the Spirit of God, and the disposition to obey will be communicated. Resume, therefore, under God, my brethren, your old standard of duty, and your old rule and habits of life. In the strength of the Lord" do thy first works." Avoid the world as though you hated it. Read, and meditate, and pray, as though all these occupations were delightful to you. Thus labour to stretch out the "withered arm," and in the effort it shall be cured.' pp. 163--166.
The title of Sermon XI. leads us to expect a much more full and specific exposure of the nature and evil of antinomianism, than the discourse contains. This sermon has given us less satisfaction than any. We submit to Mr. Cunningham whether it is not always more dignified and more advisable, to avoid referring, in the tone of self-vindication, to any opinions which ignorant persons may express on the subject of ministerial labours. We know not what class of religionists the Author means to combat in the following passage, unless any of the ministers in Mr. Baring's connexion have gone the absurd length here imputed to the supposed opponent.
66 Preach, it is sometimes said to the ministers of the Gospel, preach of faith only; for faith includes works; and, therefore, if the
faith be secured, the practice will follow.To such advisers I would reply, not merely by appealing to the practical character both of the Scriptures and the admirable formularies of our church, but by appealing to matter of fact. Not only is it the fact, that where faith alone is preached, a holy practice does not necessarily follow; but that where assent is yielded to the truths so preached, "the truth is" often "held in unrighteousness," and the life remains even as corrupt as before. It is true, that genuine faith in the truths of religion includes habits of life and temper conformable to this faith; but it by no means follows, that a mere declaration of these truths, or even an assent to them, will be followed by such dispositions and practice.
Preach of faith only,' it is sometimes said, for faith alone justifies the sinner in the sight of an offended God.'-To such persons I would answer, No statement can be more unquestionable, than that faith is the only instrument of justification before God. " Faith," says Hooker, "is the hand by which we put on Christ; by which we lay hold of and appropriate the merits of the Redeemer of a lost world." "Being justified by faith," says St. Paul, "we have peace with God, through Jesus Christ our Lord." It is grateful, cordial, affectionate reliance upon the blood of that" Lamb of God which taketh away the sins of the world,” that will be accepted by God. Our own works, necessary as they are, carry with them, from first to last, so deep and foul a stain of imperfection and corruption, that, far from being a fit offering to God as the price of redemption, the very best of them need to be washed by the tears of repentance and blood of atonement. Nevertheless, if an attempt be made to infer, that, because faith justifies us, therefore it is necessary to preach of faith only, we must contend, that however just the premises, the conclusion is wholly unwarranted. For, observe what the faith is which justifies. Is it not a living, practical, and productive faith? Is it not a faith which "worketh by love," which "overcometh the world,” and which moulds the possessor into the character of Christ? I would ask, then, how are we even to define justifying faith without enlarging upon practice? And what security can we have that the "faith" adopted by our hearers shall not be the faith of devils, instead of the faith of the Gospel, except we give the portraiture of faith as sketched by the hand ip of God himself, and surround it by all the qualities and habits which glorify God, which adorn the Gospel, and which guard the welfare and constitute the happiness of society. pp. 201-203,
It appears to us, that the practice Mr. Cunningham would reprobate, is not that of preaching faith only, but that of preaching faith unscripturally. The faith of the Scripture is not a mere assent to the doctrines of the Gospel, and therefore, where that alone is insisted upon, faith, properly speaking, is not truly preached. And so it may be said as to preaching Christ; those who do not preach the example of Christ as the rule and standard of a Christian's life, as the fashion of morals to the Church, his own family,' do not, in the Scripture sense, preach Christ. We may go further, and, in refe
rence to the more peculiar doctrines of Christianity, affirm, that he who does not preach conformity to the moral image of Christ as the end and purpose of Predestination, does not preach the Scripture doctrine of Predestination ;* any more than he who fails to press home obedience to the precepts of Christ, preaches the Scripture doctrine of Election.+ Gospel is not preached where it is not preached as a whole; and whether the omission relate to faith or to practice, to the way of justification or to the law of holiness, it becomes "another Gospel." We cordially agree, therefore, with the Author as to the necessity of following out the doctrines of the Gospel into their practical bearings. Perhaps, a jealousy for the cardinal point of the Christian system which relates to a sinner's justification, may have led some excellent men to be too shy of pressing "good works" on their hearers, under the idea that these would necessarily flow from a true faith. No preacher, however, in the present day, can run any risk of having his orthodoxy impeached, if he treats of faith and practice in their Scriptural order, insisting upon faith in order to good works,-faith as the duty of those who believe not, and good works or holiness as the duty of the true believer. It is by reversing this order, by enjoining good works on the unbeliever in order to his justification, and by inculcating doctrines only on the professed believer, that an encouragement has been given to the opposite errors of Arminianism and Antinomianism. But we see no good in letting an audience suppose that it can be necessary to frame an apology for an evangelical, that is, a practical style of preaching. Mr. Cunningham, however, had probably his reasons for adopting this tone in the present instance. He goes on to remark.
If it be, in addition, alleged, that Antinomianism is not the crime of our age, I answer, It is the crime of every age and of every place. It is more or less, I venture to say, your crime, and mine, and that of every human being. The aversion of the fallen heart is no less to purity in practice, than to truth in doctrine. And even long after the Spirit of God has shed his sanctifying influences upon the soul, this aversion lives, and lifts itself in daily insurrection against the Spirit of purity within us. "The flesh lusteth against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; and these two are contrary the one to the other." And whilst this struggle remains, it can never be safe to trust any thing to the fallen heart, or to fancy that a correct creed will necessarily make a good
There are two admirable and highly useful sermons on the Necessity of Divine Influence. The first is founded on 1 Cor.
*Rom. viii. 29. 1 Pet. i. 2.
xii. 3, from which the Author shews, 1. what progress it is possible to make in the study and use of Scripture, without the special influence of the Holy Spirit ; and, 2. as to what points we must look altogether to this sacred influence. It is possible, he remarks, without that special influence, to arrive at a bare belief in the truth of Scripture; possible to become acquainted with the contents of the sacred volume; possible to feel the highest admiration for parts of that volume; possible even clearly and strikingly to display its contents to others.
He may be a man of lively imagination, and conjure up the most attractive images for the illustration of the truth. He may be a master in composition, and therefore able to describe forcibly what he sees distinctly. But, nevertheless, all these powers and faculties may be called into action without the operation of any principle of piety, and, therefore, without the sanctifying influences of the Holy Spirit on the soul. Strong statements, or glowing descriptions, may be mere instruments which such a man employs for worldly purposes; to move or to con trol the mind of his hearers, to advance his interest, or to establish his reputation. As in the case of Saul, he may be thus associated with "the prophets," without loving the God of the prophets. Or, as in that of the individuals who "preached Christ from contention," he may be influenced by unholy motives, and yet employ the most sacred language. It is thus that an individual endowed with great natural powers, but a stranger to the grace of God, may strikingly exhibit to others the Redeemer whom he himself neglects; and may powerfully enforce on the consciences of others, obligations which he himself utterly disregards in practice, There are few, even of the devout ministers of the word of God, who do not at some moments feel the danger, in a greater or less degree, of this kind of hypocrisy. And there are, it is to be feared, cases in which the life of the individual is little better than one great practical falsehood from its commencement to its close. "This people draweth nigh to me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me."›
PP. 44, 45.
Under the second head, the Preacher shews, that it is by the Holy Spirit we are led to make a personal application of the Holy Scripture to our own case; that it is the Spirit of God who endears the promises of Scripture to the heart; and that the same Divine Agent alone brings the word of God effectually to bear upon the temper and conduct. We must make room for the whole of the very striking remarks which occur under the third particular.
It is possible, as we have stated, without any special influence of the Holy Spirit, to admit the truth of Scripture. But, without his aid, we cannot obey the Scripture. It is the language of God himself," I will put my Spirit within thee, and cause thee to obey my statutes." "Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfil the lusts of the flesh." Man, till brought under this new dominion, is always represented as a captive of
Satan--the world as his prison-and his lusts and appetites as the chains of his terrible bondage. But it is said, "where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty." As soon as this new influence is felt on the soul, our chains begin to drop from us. Like the Apostle in the dungeon, we find that some powerful hand is at work for our deliverance. Some angry temper is gradually quieted, some lust is quenched, some passion is bridled. Our powers are gradually enlarged; until, at length, loosened from the bands which held us so long and so disgracefully, we 66 walk abroad in all the glorious liberty of the children of God." Then, and then only, it is that we arrive at a full perception of the truth of the declaration," If the Son make you free, then are ye free indeed." Compare, my brethren, the obedience of others with that of the individual who thus lives and walks in the power of the Spirit of God. How languid is the compliance of the one class; and how vigorous and decided that of the other! There are many complaints in society as to the dearth of practical religion. And most justly are these complaints in some instances urged, although not always upon right grounds, or in a right spirit, or by the individuals most authorized to urge them. But what is there which ought to inflict deeper anguish on the mind jealous for God, for the Saviour, and for the salvation of mankind, than the low standard of practice which prevails in the world? Suppose, my brethren, one of those happy spirits, acquainted only with the region of love and uninterrupted obedience in which he dwells, to be sent in search of the world appointed for our own habitation, and for which the Son of God lived and died-suppose him to alight amongst us, even on a Sabbath, and to see the multitudes who are profaning that holy day by business, idleness, or dissipation-suppose him to enter the public haunts of vice, and to mingle with the crowd living for this world, and forgetting God and eternity-suppose him to take his place in the family circle of multitudes professing to believe in Christ as the Son of God and the Saviour of the world-what, when he thus contemplated the too general spirit and temper of society-its worldliness, its selfishness, its levity, its indisposition to God and Christ, its feverish pursuit of present things, and its neglect of things to come-and, at the same time, contrasted this world with that which he inhabited, and the manner in which the will of God is "done on earth," with that in which it is " done in heaven,”—what would he think of the region he had visited? Would he not be disposed to conceive himself mistaken as to the globe on which he had rested-to abandon it in quest of some other region, the principles and practice of whose inhabitants might more strictly accord with their obligations, and ́ where the love manifested to them by a dying Saviour be followed by a grateful and affectionate compliance with his will, and devotion to his service?
And to what cause may we ascribe this lamentable want of genuine godliness visible among us? To what but to the neglect of the influence of the Holy Spirit? It is the power of the Spirit alone, my brethren, which can produce in us conformity to the will of God and the mind of Christ. "My people," says the Rsalmist, "shall be willing in the day of my power." "He will teach us his ways," says Isaiah," and we