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The immediate consequence is, that they should be fruitful unto holiness Now it is the special distinction of that faith which was propagated by Jesus when seen that it hath practical results: and, we think, that by this circumstance, it is especially marked off from all the other forms of religion which have obtained, at various periods, in human society. It hath to do with everyday life; it meddles with men's duties: it is not merely a matter of chamber contemplation; it is not merely a matter which consists in certain professions of opinion; but it is to be written on the plain open tablet of man's intercourse with man; so that it shall be discovered in his actions, in those things which he carries on with relation to his fellows; it shall be discovered by the whole tenor and conduct of his changed life. There never prevailed a greater error in the world, than that by which men came to the notion that they might retire from active duty, and seek safety for their own souls in the cell of the monk, or the cave of the hermit. It was this mistake which first raised convents and monasteries oftentimes the mere refuge of the idle, the mere receptacle of the vicious. But we understand the Gospel, as we trust, somewhat better; and we desire to carry it out in its manifestation every day, into every circumstance, in every place. We would have it with us in the morning, when we unclose our eyes to the newly-risen light: we would have it with us in the intercourse of our family circle: we would have it go forth with us into our daily occupation-in the carrying on the occupation of those businesses to which we have been appointed in providential arrangement: we would have it with us in all our bargain-making-in all our intercourse, whether of appointed occupation, or permitted pleasure: we would have it with us in the consideration of our past days, in the silence of our chamber, and when our heads are resting on the pillow. It is a thing never to be laid aside: it is thus to speak in our whole life: it is to give its colouring and its hue to every action. The believer is not merely a man of contemplation, but he is also a man of action; and he will apply the gauge of Gospel principle to the occupation which he follows, and he will try whether it be a lawful one. He will bring his every-day dealings to the standard of the Gospel, and he will see whether they reach the mark. It will not satisfy him, that other men's integrity is no higher than his own: it will not content him, that he may have done nothing which has transgressed the laws of human honour, of merchandize, or of integrity: he has a separate measure of his own; he has a higher standard for his own inner guidance.
There is, perhaps, nothing more perilous, than that we should make a cheap and easy substitution of open-mouthed profession of the Gospel, and use the language of Canaan, while our hearts are unchanged, and our lives are like the lives of the rest of the world. It is a very tempting thing to avoid the costly sacrifices that we are called upon to make; it is a very tempting thing to escape the selfdenial which this involves. But, O, let me tell you, that, whilst you stop short of that self-denial which the Gospel claims, you have no seal set upon your profession that it is true and genuine; you have no ground for satisfaction in the sight of God; and you have nothing whereon your assurance can possibly be built.
The principles which, by the operation of the Spirit of God, are brought into existence and energy in the heart of the believer, are those which will have a universal application. We might easily conceive of other systems which should apply in certain cases, but the application of which would necessarily be more or less circumscribed. The Gospel is a universal code. It applies
in this century, and it was equally powerful eighteen centuries ago: it is applicable in our land: it is equally applicable in the most distant parts of our globe. Whether men are civilized or barbarous, whether they are educated or ignorant, lofty or low, happy or miserable-still the Gospel of Jesus Christ hath its prescriptions for every one of them.
And moreover, this principle of Gospel holiness implanted in the heart is of an abiding nature. It is not like the influence of human opinion, that may soon change, that may be inconsistent with what it has been. It is not like the restraint of human law; for that we may hope to avoid; we may escape the eye of the magistrate, or laugh to scorn the arm of the executive. But not so with the principles of the Gospel: there is set up an inner court, from whose enactments we can have no escape, for they extend to the whole life; so that no action, no word, no thought is exempt from them. We are in the presence of One who searches us, and who knows us; for he made us.
And moreover, it is an influence ever increasing. "The path of the just is as a shining light, which shineth more and more unto the perfect day." He in whom this principle of holiness hath once been implanted shall find that, under the favour of God, it daily expands, and works its root deeper, gains more influence over his heart, is written more plainly and legibly on the page of his life, and hath more effect in changing his character. Whether it be in public or in private, abroad or at home, in business or in the intercourse of their own circle, the Lord's people are a holy people; and we beg you, beloved, never to lose sight of this great Gospel truth. They who, by the grace of God, have been set free from sin, and made servants of the Lord, will bring forth fruit unto holiness and there is no fruit which God so much loves to look uponthere is no fruit that grows beneath the skies, or in the palmy islands of the ocean, of such rich odour, of such rare fragrance, as the fruits of the Spirit of the Lord. Love, joy, peace, long-suffering, gentleness, faith, meekness, temperance-these have a preciousness in the sight of God which is not to be rendered by all the beauty and glory of the unfallen angels. God's people are a holy people. The Lord looketh complacently on the work which he himself commences and carries on within them. There is no thought of making payment or any favour to the Lord for granting it. They would not buy heaven by their performances, but by the increase of their holiness.
And so, mark, there is a connexion in the language of the apostle: one member of the sentence is bound up in close relationship with the other member of the sentence; as they bear "fruit unto holiness," so "the end is everlasting life." Now there is in every human heart an implanted principle, which nothing serves to quench or destroy-the love of life. We do not say of life under all circumstances; we do not say of life in all its pleasures and accommodations; but we say of life when it is stripped of these, and becomes the most waste and desolate existence that imagination can conceive; even then we cling to it, and the veriest wretch who tenants the most hapless home is unwilling to depart; he shrinks from the verge of the grave, and draws back with as much reluctance as those who dwell in the midst of luxury, and on whom prosperity hath set its smiles. And yet it is not here that we can be said to live; there is no field for the development of man's loftiest and best faculties. And, truly, we can hardly conceive it possible that he who hath entered into himself, and hath held communion with his own spirit, and hath
traced out the machinery of the inner man, and hath marked how fearfully and how wonderfully he is made; who hath looked into his own mind, and hath seen the structure of that marvellous apparatus which he bears about with him; we cannot believe that such a one will think the present sphere of existence, with all its imperfections and all its hinderances, can be the only sphere for which he is destined. For the most part, life is passed under mournful circumstances, under many privations: amongst ourselves, are thousands and tens of thousands, who spend long years in the murky dens of this dark city, plying their businesses from morn till night, in places where the rays of the sun struggle, and almost in vain, to find an entrance: and they know little of pleasant scenes; they know little of the refreshings of nature in her fairest aspect; they know little of the heart's gladness in its happiest moods; and they know nothing of the sweet companionship of a country home; they have not trodden the pleasant hill, and breathed the unburdened air: but in their smoky dwelling-places they have been wasted away amidst want, and many other sources of discomfort: it may be, that infirmity has been bound as a burden on their shoulders; it may be, that disease and pining sickness have been their chamber-fellows. But if it be not so; if they have had life, and all that life can give, and have seen nature in all her fairest aspects, and have dwelt on the panorama of most beautiful prospects; and if they have had wealth largely and lavishly poured upon them to produce them every earthly good; still hath the spirit ever and anon been fretting itself against the bars of its cage; and still there hath been the searching forward to something nobler and better which is beyond: and so there hath been discontent with present things. We can conceive of a man who shall have escaped very much from the bondage and the thraldom of the material-who may have been enabled to renounce things present, and to have communed with the intellectual and the spiritual to live apart from the influence of present companionship, and to rest on the future, dim and dull though it may be and there may be around him dreams of brighter and purer virtue than ever he had known before. And yet for even such a one, if he were a believer in Jesus, there would be something prepared beyond the dark hills of the present life, far more glorious and blessed than ever entered into his imagination to conceive.
Man feels that he is born for immortality; he feels that the present is not his portion; and therefore with the present he is not content: or if he be content, far is it indeed from mending his condition. If he be satisfied with earth and earthly things, what is but to have flung from him all the privileges of his manhood, and just to have taken up his lot and his condition with the beasts that perish-to graze with them, and to sleep with them, and to die with them, and to lie beneath the clods of the valley. If it be so-if man hath fed on the unsubstantial fare of this world's satisfactions; then hath he bid farewell to all that is bright and glorious and great in immortality. Alas! alas! for the head that desires not that there shall be an expanding of its faculties, and a brightening of its intelligence, and an unveiling of its endowments! Alas! alas! for the heart that does not pant for companionship with the good, and the glorious, and the blessed of another world!
Beloved, we say to every one of you that you bear about within you something too good for this world; you carry about with you something too precious
to be given up to time and earth. There is not in all the world that which can satisfy the immortal spirit; there is not that which can satisfy any one of ou when you are about to die. Well then, we tell you of Him who went down into the grave's darkness, and dwelt in the damp chamber, that he might bring life and immortality to light for you. We tell you of Him who went and wrestled with the last antagonist of his people, that having won a glorious victory, he might bring them everlasting gifts, with hope, and all that has to do with heaven and immortality, in the presence of God and the choirs of angels, and all the satisfaction of a city where sin hath never come and where it can never have an entrance.
But we tell you, this life is only to be found in Jesus. "This is life eternalto know Him, the true God, and Jesus Christ whom he has sent." "This is the record, that God hath given to us eternal life, and this life is in his Son," We know that natural light cometh from God, and is never the result of all the combinations of human skill, and all the efforts of human art. There might be the utmost pains-taking, and there might be devotedness of the largest amount of science; but light would never come. It is that which God jealously guards and vindicates as his own attribute. We might labour with the utmost anxiety, but it would be in vain: we might till the earth, and pass toilsome days; we might lay the hand to the plough, but except God sends the rain into the little furrows of the land, and causes his sun to ripen our harvest, it would be in vain: he must give the light which he at first bestowed. And just so is it spiritually : there will be no emotion and no stir of the soul excited, until the quickening Spirit hath been there, until Christ Jesus hath been there, until there be some development of our lost estate, until we see the helplessness and the misery in which we are steeped by nature, and until we come to seek for health, and life, and hope from Him who is the bestower of all good.
Be not content, then, in your bondage: rest not till you have thrown off your fetters; rest not till you are made servants of God. Be not satisfied that you are become servants of God till you have given evidence of it, till you bear fruit acceptable to God-which is the fruit of holiness. Above all things think of the "one thing needful:" and amidst all your exertions for your families, amidst all your pains-taking and thoughtful labour for those you love, let not your Bibles be shut up; let not the Gospel of Jesus Christ be unknown to you or to them. We bind this upon you as a matter of most solemn and earnest exhortation, that you flee from the wrath to come, and lay hold of eternal life
THE POSSESSION OF THE INIQUITIES OF YOUTH IN AFTER LIFE
REV. H. MELVILL, A.M.
CAMDEN CHAPEL, CAMBERWELL, JANUARY 24, 1836.
"Thou writest bitter things against me, and makest me to possess the iniquities of my youth."-JOB, xiii. 26.
THESE are the words of Job himself, when addressing God in reference to the great sorrows with which he had been visited. The expostulations, for such they must be called, of the patriarch with his Maker, display often a forgetfulness and a boldness, which, if natural under circumstances of extraordinary trial, prove, that even in one so eminently holy, there was much that required to be subdued. Occasionally, however, in the midst of remonstrances, which, if not to be wondered at, cannot be justified, Job manifested a right sense of the ends of affliction, and a desire that those ends might be answered in himself. He was often irritated by the injurious suspicions and accusations of his friends; and in his zeal to refute what he knew to be false, spake unadvisedly with his lips. But when he removes his cause, as it were, from these incompetent judges, and spreads it before God, then, though there is a frequent querulousness, and a vein of irreverence, which we are bound to condemn, at other times we see glimpses of better and holier feeling, and recognize the workings of a spirit, sorely oppressed and wounded, but nevertheless conscious that God smote not without cause.
It is thus with the verses which stand immediately in connexion with our text. We will not say that the question, "Wilt thou break a leaf driven to and fro? and wilt thou pursue the dry stubble?" is exactly that which became Job when addressing the Almighty. There is, to say the least, a reproachful tone in the interrogation, which we must all confess ought never to be used when a creature speaks to his Creator. But when the patriarch exclaims, "How many are mine iniquities and sins? make me to know my transgression and my sin;" we have tokens of a more becoming temper, and evidence that the sufferer considered the chastisement as just, and only longed to discover, that he might correct, what had displeased God in his conduct. This is the more to be admired and observed in Job, because it was just on this point that the whole controversy lay between himself and his friends. They argued under the wrong principle, that extraordinary calamity proved extraordinary wickedness; as though a man's character might be inferred from his condition : and, therefore, though not aware of any crime that Job had committed, they rashly concluded from his signal misfortune, that he must have perpetrated some signal, though indefinite misdoing; and they urged him, accordingly, to repentance and confession. But the patriarch was quite assured of his own