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the difficulty of banishing its recollection from our mind, and the loss of something of our character and interest in society, if we neglect to revenge it-which are among the excuses men commonly frame when they indulge unhallowed passions—what are all these vain reasonings, when we consider the rule of the Apostle, “even as Christ forgave you, so also do ye.” What injuries can be great, compared with those we have done to God? What obstacles to forgiveness so threatening, as the obstacles which seemed to prevent our being pardoned? What sacrifice to be named with the awful and incomprehensible death of the Son of God, when he was once offered to bear the sins of And yet what forgiveness so gracious, so spontanicous, so rich, so entirc, so permanent, so directly flowing from the heart, so pure from all remaining wrath, so imbued and filled with infinite love and compassion, as that act of remission, by which Christ hath forgiven us? He who does not then put on all these lovely graces, which begin in sympathy for the miserable, and end in forgiveness to the guilty, has never felt aright in his heart the benefit of Christ's pardoning his sin, and has no proof that he possesses this inestimable blessing.
And, indeed, to pass to a brief application of the whole subject, we cannot but learn from what has been said,
1st. How far men in general are from being true Christians.
For if real religion include the feeling of Christian motives and the performing of Christian duties, then how few comparatively, even in a Christian country, can, by any rule of charity, be considered as servants of God! How few have ever assumed a distinct Christian profession; I mean, a profession, not merely of Christianity, but of those things in which Christianity consists! How few have “risen with Christ," how few have 6 sct their affections on things above," how few are “dead to the world," how few have “put off the old man with his decds," and have “put on the new man;" how few are sensible of the unspeakable love which God bears to his children, and of the infinite mercy of Christ in pardoning sin? Or if there were any doubt of the general deficiency of nominal and external Christians as to these and other points of inward piety, what doubt could remain if we look to their spirit and conduct? “ By their fruits
“ By their fruits ye shall know them.” What, then, are the tempers and behavior of the generality of men? Are they meek, and compassionate, and lowly, and forgiving; or are they not too obviously fierce, and selfish,
and obstinate; resentsul of the smallest injury, disdainful of submission, proud of superiority, and coutemptuous towards others? What mean the family feuds which disgrace our households, what the hcart-burnings, what the unnatural divisions and separations, what the interminable quarrels, what the party spirit, evil-spcaking and slanders, which prevail among men?
0, let us at least learn from the subject before us, what Christianity is, what it must effect in us before we can be Christians. Let us begin with sccking the pardon of our sins. This is to be the notive of obedience, and must therefore precede it. “Repentance towards God, and faith towards our Lord Jesus Christ," are the beginning of all religion. This will lay the axe to the root of the tree. By repentance the sinner breaks off from transgression; by faith he receives the gift of righteousness, and obtains the benefit of remission. The merits of Jesus Christ being imputed to his account, he is accepted as righteous before God. He who thus receives forgiveness from the hands of his compassionate Saviour, will assuredly begin to love his neighbor as himself. Thus holiness and pardon will be inseparable. The regenerating grace of the Holy Spirit, which he has already experienced in its incipient operation, will make him more and more a ture.” Ile will “ put off the old man with his deeds, he will put on the new man," and be gradually adorned with all the softer virtues of compassion, mcckness, and forgiveness towards those around him. This is Christianity. This is the principle and practice of rcligion. This, therefore, let us seck, imploring of God his Holy Spirit to give us true repentance, and bestow on us the gift of faitli, to forgive us our sins, and to form us to a holy imitation of the unbounded mercy which we receive.
But we may,
2d. Learn how much true Christians themselves have to do in order to act up to their profession.
The virtues we have been considering arc not acquired in a day. A long course of instruction, and perpetual efforts of watchfulness and prayer, arc indispensable. Holiness does, indeed, in some degree necessarily follow the true grace of God; but for the growth and promotion of it, there is great need of constant exhortation. The Colossians had already put on the new mail, but they are commanded in the text still to proceed to cultivate the vir:ues which we have been reviewing, because they were to grow and increase in them, and to exert and exercise them daily in all
the concerns of life. Christian morality must therefore be duly practiced and enforced, as well as Christian doctrine, if we would follow the example of St. Paul. The nccessity of doing this is evident. For how deficient are we in the holy and lovely graces which our text enjoins? How difficult for us is it even to understand what is meant by them, or to feel the importance and difficulty of cultivating them, unless they form a part of ministerial instruction! How different would be the aspect of the church, if its members uniformly, or any thing like uniformly, acted in the spirit of the Apostle's maxims! Let us, then, examine ourselves strictly on these points! Let us put off more and more the sordid and disgraceful garments of our unrenewed and sinful condition, and let us put on the becoming dress which should adorn the children of God!
And to this end let us enter more deeply into the motives of Christianity, that, by Divine grace, we may employ them more fully to the reduction of Christian practice! If the doctrine of the love of God and the pardoning grace of Christ be withdrawn or obscured, the foundation is taken from the building, and the edifice will fall. If these doctrines be inculcated without Christian practice, we overthrow the edifice already reared, and Icave only the foundation. To unite the two is the Apostolic method. Grow, then, in the view of the Saviour's pardoning mercy, that you may be merciful. Imbibe more fully the obligation of your Christian profession, that you may act agrecably to it. Increase in the love of God, that you may love others. The mysteries of the Divine love, especially in the election of grace, may be most profitably contemplated by the experienced and obedient Christian, as our seventeenth Articlc states, if it be connected with a sober and intent regard to the holy fruits by which alone it is to be known, and with an habitual and well-fixed adherence to the following of that will of God which is plainly revealed in Holy Scripture. The consideration of it will then inflame your love to God, will promote your humility and thankfulness, will inspire us with the holy hope of attaining everlasting felicity, will animate us to prepare more and more for it, and will teach us especially, as we find in our text it is intended to do, to put on all those virtuous and lovely tempers which peculiarly become the children of God; all those graces which honor Christ, all that adorn the Gospel, all that benefit our fellow-creatures, all that prepare us for the peace, purity, and harmony of heaven.
TENDENCY OF ALL EVENTS, TO THE TRUE
By the Bt. Rev. DANIEL WILSON, D, D.,
Bishop of Calcutta.
PHILIPPIANS, i. 19. For I know that this shall turn to my salvation through your prayer, and the
supply of the Spirit of Jesus Christ.
Tue consideration of the providence of God, which orders all the events of the world, is a source of consolation to the sincere Christian. He finds himself often in the midst of difficulties, from which no human prudence can deliver him. His most sacred designs for the Divine glory are at times impeded and frustrated. The perverseness of the adversaries of true religion, combines with the mistakes of its friends and the imbecility and defects of his own mind, to involve him in perplexity. Under such circumstances, his relief is in the wisc and gracious care of his heavenly Father, who knows and who controls all the affairs of his servants, and who can bring order and success out of the confused and apparently inextricable tumult of human passions.
This appears to have been the resource of St. Paul in the peculiar afflictions to which the text refers. He was at the time when he wrote it, a prisoner at Rome, for the name of Jesus Christ. Somc false apostles took this opportunity of opposing his designs, undermining his authority, and sowing divisions in the church. To this end they “preached Christ out of envy and
. strife," aiming to promote contention even by the Gospel of peace. Possibly they were teachers who concealed some part of their rcal sentiments, and preached for a time the substance of the Gospel, in order to form a party against the Apostle, and gradually impose the Mosaic ritual on the Gentile converts. In these painful trials, St. Paul remained unmoved. He rejoiced that, “notwithstanding, cvery way, whether in pretence or in truth, Christ was preached.” This satisfied bim as to the effect produced upon other persons; and as to himself, he knew it would help forward his final salvation by promoting his humility, spirituality, and meetness for heaven, through the ardent prayers of the Philippians on his behalf, and the gracious supply of the Spirit of Jesus Christ. Thus in both respects he had just reason to leave every thing, without extreme solicitude, in the hands of God. “ His earnest expectation and his hope were, that he should in nothing be ashamed, but that with all boldness, as always, so then also, Christ should be magnified in his body, whether it were by life or by death.” This was his great object, his prevailing desire, his deliberate purpose, his first duty, and bis highest interest; for “to him to live was Christ, and to die was gain.”
The sentiment, then, of the text appears to be, that the most distressing events will advance the ultimate salvation of the true Christian, through the means of prayer to God and the supply of the Holy Spirit of Christ.
In considering this subject, we must notice,
I. The confident hope of the humble Christian—" I know that this shall turn to my salvation.”
II. The particular manner in which this hope will be accomplished—“ through your prayer and the supply of the Spirit of Jesus Christ.”
I. The confident hope of the humble Christian is, that every trial, however apparently adversc, will assuredly conduce to his final salvation.
Salvation is the deliverance of fallen man from sin and all its consequences, by the stupendous sacrifice and grace of Jesus Christ. The meritorious cause of it, is exclusively the obedience unto death of the eternal Son of God. He is the Saviour. name was” expressly “called Jesus, because he was to save his people from their sins." His sacrifice upon the cross was the price of our redemption; “neither is there salvation in any other, for there is none other name under heaven given among men