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that peace, also, we ought not to mistake.
We are not to suppose that we are naturally so good as to recommend ourselves to the favour of God. We must not, therefore, trust in our gentle dispositions, our upright demeanour, our moral and virtuous lives. We cannot indeed be saved without these; but we are not to be saved by them. Neither are we to trust to any works of righteousness which we have done ; for after we have done all we can, we are unprofitable servants; and will have neglected much that was our duty. We have, therefore, nothing of our own to plead as a ground of justification before God; for of his mercy he saves us. An atonement is necessary for the most perfect of our race. And Jesus Christ is that Lamb of God, who alone taketh away the sins of the world. And since we are accounted righteous only through his merits, it is only when we perceive how exclusive and entire must be our faith in him, that we can have peace with God. .
My brethren, there is no other name given under heaven among men whereby we can be saved. We are all sinners; for “ if we say that
have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the “ truth is not in us.” But it is the glory of the Gospel of good will and peace, that it brings to us this message, that “ if we confess our sins, God “ is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to “ cleanse us from all unrighteousness.'
If then we are really grieved and wearied with the burden of our sins, if we have regarded them as transgressions committed against the purest and best of Beings, our acknowledgment of them will be prompt and voluntary; we shall not dissemble nor cloak them before the face of Almighty God our heavenly Father ; but confess them with an humble, lowly, penitent, and obedient heart. And since God is in Christ reconciling the world unto himself, not imputing to men their trespasses, he will for his sake extend to us pardon and peace.
Having such a trust in God, rejoicing in his forgiveness, and serving him with a quiet mind, the Christian may enjoy a perfect peace, which cannot be disturbed by any evil which flows from inferiour things; for all things are under the control of him who is his Father and his Friend. While, then, the irreligious man has no peace, or resting upon some uncertain and insufficient support, is every moment exposed to destruction, the righteous has a firm rock to rest upon, a house of defence and a castle. He has the God of Jacob for his help, and his hope is in the Lord his God, who made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that therein is, who keepeth his promise for ever.
Blessed, thrice blessed, are they whose minds are stayed upon God, and who are at peace with him; who, being reconciled by faith in Jesus Christ, can, without fear, as without presumption, look up to him, and call him Father; who daily address him in humble confidence, “Father, thy “ will be done;" who, nightly as they repose upon their pillow, can say, I will lay me down in peace, and take my rest, for thou, Lord, makest me to dwell in safety.
Gay, indeed, they may not be ; but with such a trust in God, they must be always tranquil, and should be also cheerful and happy.
Such a privilege belongs only to the Christian ; and he, when this earth shall pass away, when the heavens shall depart, and when all the vicissitudes of human things shall terminate in one tremendous change, may stand undismayed, peaceful, triumphing. Who is not sensible of a feeling of moral sublimity, in whose bosom is not a sentiment full of grandeur excited, on beholding one of our frail race who, thus aided by succours from on high, has schooled all his
powers to meet with composure every circumstance which change can bring ; one who is prepared for all that can arrive; whose confidence is not founded on insensibility nor rashness, but is the result of deep thought, and unshaken principle; and who is sustained, under all events, by high and ennobling considerations of the Divine protection, and of the beneficence of him who ruleth over all; one whose mind, coming back from the darkest and most intellectual speculations, is stayed only and unhesitatingly upon God; and whose heart, in all its apprehensions, is still consoled by an unfaltering belief in his goodness ; whose thoughts, hopes, and desires, are habitually fixed on heaven and heavenly things; whose affections, resting constantly upon God's favour and love, find there their spring of action; and thither, in filial reverence, always turn to find their repose ?
Such an one, as he meets the varying events of life, with the majesty and firmness of a collected but submissive spirit, gives evidence that he walks with God, and nobly aspiring, strives to resemble him whom he reveres. He beholds the vicissitudes of mortal things with the eye of one who has entered into the recesses of heavenly knowledge, who is acquainted with the secrets of that dissolution to which all these lower works of God are tending, and feels that he is destined to survive them all. No wonder that, like a stranger and a pilgrim, he is little moved by the circumstances which attend his journey; but reserves all his best feelings, all his highest interest, for those scenes which are eternal. No wonder that keeping constantly in view the glorious reversion in the skies, he submits to all his trials with patience, is content in whatever state he may be, knows how to be abased, and how to abound, and can do and suffer all things through Christ who strengtheneth him.
This it is to be at peace with God; and this peace the world can neither give nor take away. Would we enjoy this peace, we must seek to be reconciled to God by virtue of the atonement which the Saviour has made. Believing the Gospel, and endeavouring, through the aids of the Holy Spirit, to obey it by walking in newness of life, we must throw ourselves wholly upon the mercy of God in Jesus Christ; we must walk by faith, and not by sight; and realizing the promised glories of the heavenly inheritance, and holding lightly all temporal things, we must make it our highest endeavour to attain the things, which, though not seen, are eternal; using with sincerity and prayer all the means of grace which are provided to forward our progress in the spiritual life, we must strive to have our conversation' in heaven, and to walk as children of the light. Thus attaining the character, we shall enjoy the consolations, the peace, and the hopes, of the righteous. Should affliction be our lot, we shall be enabled to regard it as light and momentary, when we see that it worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory. Though our outward man perish, we shall not faint, if we are assured that our inward man is renewed day by day. And at the last, when our earthly house of this tabernacle shall be dissolved, it will be our consolation that we have a building of God, an house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens.