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once passed and pledged, carries with it the solemnity of an oath; who are distinguished by purity of conversation, which restrains in their presence the profane witticism, the malignant slander, and the indecent jest? Who are they to whom even the children of this world have recourse for counsel, and, in the hour of calamity, for aid? Who are they to whom we instinctively turn for help, and sympathy, and support, in all that concerns the welfare of man, and that aims at the glory of God? Who are they that deny themselves, and constrain themselves, yielding their claims, and foregoing their interests, that they may do good and lend, hoping for nothing again? Are they those who are wise in their own eyes, and righteous in their own sight-those who think to scale heaven by their works? No such thing: they are the persons who put not their trust in any thing that they do who record the evidence against themselves in the church, as poor "miserable sinners," and in the world, as "unprofitable servants ;" who disclaim all confidence in works of righteousness which they have done; who look for salvation in grace alone; who confess that Christ is every thing, and that they themselves are nothing, except what Christ has made them. They are lowliest in prayer; these are loudest in praise. These are the men that mingle in the rapture, and swell the choral hymn of thanksgiving. These are the men from every one of which incense is borne by angels to the throne of the most high God. These are they that will congregate around that altar; a little flock, indeed, but, still, a flock to whom it is "the Father's pleasure to give the kingdom."
O! you who thus confess Christ, while you are pledging yourselves to him, whose lives reflect the Gospel, and whose hearts delight themselves in his love (why are we not all such ?)-consider for a few moments the blessing which is above all price, and which is all your own. You confess that Jesus is the Son of God: of each of you, therefore, it may be said, that "God dwelleth in him, and he in God." God dwells in you; and this is, at present, the portion of the blessing which comes immediately into view. Already he dwells in you, but still more hereafter shall you dwell in God. But wherefore doth God dwell in you? To counsel, to admonish, to defend, to sanctify. His indwelling tends alike to suppress sin and engender holiness; in other words, in excluding the elements of discord, to obtain and maintain within you the abundance of peace.
Do you ask the evidence of this? "Hereby," saith the apostle, we know that he abideth in us, by the Spirit which he hath given us." But how does the Spirit work? We answer, In direct opposition to human nature. Resistance to temptation is a sign of the Spirit. Refusal of sinful compromise, or questionable pleasures, is a sign of the Spirit. Struggling with self in performance of duty, is a sign of the Spirit. Concern and expectation in every disastrous occurrence, in every calamitous visitation, to seek comfort from God, is a sign of the Spirit. When temptation is repelled, when the mastery is obtained over sin, when duty has itself become sweet, when we suffer according to the example of our divine Master, whose will was swallowed up in God's; such are a few signs of that indwelling of God which will deprive the troubled waters of life of more than half their bitterness. For though God's people do suffer even as others, and the waters of a full cup are wrung out to them, they never sorrow as those who have no hope. The endurance of the believer is the endurance of hope; his patience is the confidence of hope: he knows that "all
things are working together for his good:" he is persuaded that "the chastening, not joyous, but grievous, shall yield in the end the peaceable fruit of righteousness:" he knows that "the sufferings of the present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory that shall be revealed." He is, therefore, like the apostle, both patient and joyful in tribulation: patient, because God dwells in him; and joyful, because, in due season, the trial ended and faith triumphant, he shall dwell with God.
Yes, here is the perfection of the blessing-he" dwelleth in God;" and that with him, so far as it is perceived and realized, is the happiness of life, and shall become an exhaustless source of blessing throughout the ages of an eternity of duration. Dwelling in God, he combines, even here, all the elements of perfect felicity, so far as they are attainable on earth. He is conscious of a life, the very existence of which proves its immortality; and of a hope, the very source of which shall ensure its accomplishment, for it is "a good hope through grace;" and a strength, the character of which certifies victory, for "if God be for us who can be against us?" and a promise which must stand firm though the universe itself gives way. He dwells in God, and "whosoever dwelleth in the secret place of the Most High shall abide under the shadow of his wings; no evil shall befal him nor any plague come nigh his dwelling." If evil befal him it shall be overruled for good; and if the plague come near, God shall make it pass away, and leave behind the peaceable fruits of righteousness. He is "not afraid of the terror by night, nor of the arrow that flieth at noon-day." He never comes to the throne of God but he finds Christ seated on it as an intercessor, and therefore will not tremble at the last when he shall find Christ seated on it as a judge: for on that very person his iniquity has been laid by whom iniquity will then be tried; it is the Judge who already dwells in him, and who will perfect his own image before the day of reckoning shall arrive, his presence being a pledge of a union that shal. endure throughout eternity. A veil now separates between Christ and the believer, but it shall be torn asunder by the hand of death: "We shall then be made like him," said the venerable John, " for we shall see him as he is." O that we could exhibit more of the glories of an indwelling Saviour, that so men might take knowledge of us that God dwells in us and we in God; and that, seeing our good works, they may rejoice in our light, and glorify our Father who is in heaven.
Out of this subject, brethren, prolific and expansive as it is, I have one question to propose, and only one, and it is a question grounded on a fact. You have this day confessed Jesus to be the Son of God; the question is, How have you confessed him? Was it with our lips? Yes-all, all confess him either by utterance or by acquiescence, for your presence here is an acquiescence, though your lips are (as they never should be) mute. He, indeed, who should come hither, if there be any such, meaning no act of worship, and only desiring to stand fair with the world, would be no better than a dissembler and a hypocrite. But we hope and we trust that of this generation of vipers Satan himself, did he sift the congregation here present, would not find one. You all, then, confess, with your lips, and we credit you with full sincerity; but, beloved brethren, did you confess him with your hearts? Who can answer this question but yourselves? "The heart knoweth its own bitterness; and a stranger does
not intermeddle with his joy." But I ask again of you, brethren-though you only can answer-Did you confess him with your heart? O! mark that answer well! It may prove you on the very brink of hell-it may prove you on the verge of the abyss of despair. Christ not confessed by the heart is not confessed at all.
But, lastly, Do you confess him in your lives, in your walk, in your actions ? In other words, Do you confess him at home, in the world, in the church, at the altar? Do not, we entreat you, credit yourselves with confessing Christ at the full until you confess him there. You may doubt, and you may fear, and you may excuse, and you may dissemble, but only ask yourselves (the reason, the propriety of these questions you cannot doubt) only ask yourselves Can that man who shrinks from the altar be fit for heaven? Can that man expect Christ to dwell with him who does not seek to dwell with Christ. Can we arraign that sentence in the day of retribution which on every sacramental sabbath we tacitly pass on ourselves.
It only remains that I bid welcome to those young disciples who have within the last few days avowed themselves soldiers and servants of Christ, and who are about to seal their allegiance at the altar for the first time this day-who are about to confess Christ as Christ himself ordained; and thus, we hope and believe, to lay for themselves a good foundation against the time to come, that they may lay hold on eternal life. We welcome them to the little flock (God be praised, it is an increasing flock); we greet them as fellow-citizens with the saints, and with the house of God; as members of the family of love, united, not for time alone, but eternity, by the only tie which death cannot dissolve. We welcome them to peace, to holiness, to hope, to joy. They choose the good path, and it shall not be taken from them: they secure to themselves true riches, which shall never make to themselves wings and fly away. They place themselves behind a shield that none can penetrate: they have a refuge and defence that none can force. They marshal themselves under the Captain of salvation who has brought many sons, and will bring them also, to glory. Let temptation come; they remember Christ and they are prepared: let trouble come; they remember Christ, and they are prepared: let death come; they remember Christ, and still they are prepared. They do shew forth the Lord's death till he come; and whether he come quickly to give the judgment, or whether they go early to receive it, certain it is, that, "Whosoever shall confess me before men, him will I also confess before my Father which is in heaven." O then, put all the world's vanities into one scale, and the benefits, transient and eternal of the confession into the other; and never, my brethren, dearly-beloved and longed-for, my joy and crown, as I trust you will one day be-never will you repent what you are about to do this day. It will bring upon you, and it will leave upon you (O, that this might be the portion of all I address) the fulness of the blessing of the Gospel of Christ.
THE HEAVENLY INHERITANCE.
"CONSIDER only the nature and the blessedness of such a prospect; and see whether it is not likely to be an influential motive to holiness, and for gratitude towards God. You are placed here but for a short and uncertain period; and if you supposed, that while here your lot were the happiest ever enjoyed by mortals, still, all you possess is transitory-all you do is defiled-all you love and enjoy is perpetually fading from you. The most durable of your possessions cannot be secured to you, even for the day that passeth over you. The morning sun sees you rejoicing in your abundance: the evening sun may behold you destitute and impoverished. The year opens upon you surrounded by an affectionate family, closely united to loving relatives: it closes upon you cheerless and bereft of all the gladdening joys of the present life. Such, even as to temporal things, is the Christian's life here below. And with respect to spiritual things, they are almost equally unsatisfactory. A few hours of holy meditation, and the world returns again with its unceasing demands, and must and will be attended to. A few moments of intimate communion with God, and wandering thoughts, or sinful imaginations come in among us, and remind us that we are still possessors of an unholy nature-that we are carrying about a body of sin and death with us—that the good which we would we do not, and that the evil which we would not, that we do.
"Now turn your eyes from what you are, to what you shall be-from what you now possess, to that which is promised you hereafter. An inheritance is placed before you in which every thing is entirely the reverse of all that we have just stated; in which the enjoyment is declared, by the unerring word of God, to be eternal-for it is an inheritance incorruptible: no taint of sin shail ever pass upon it-for it is an inheritance undefiled: no change shall ever interrupt or diminish the happiness of it—for it is an inheritance that fadeth not away. No sound of sorrow shall ever be heard within those blissful abodes. The wealth laid up in store for you in those imperishable garners shall never be exhausted. The friends you knew on earth who have entered there, shall go no more out for ever; they are in their Father's house, rejoicing in their Redeemer's presence, and beholding his glory. How delightful is the thought, how glorious the anticipation, that not a person whom we have loved on earth, if a real child of God, shall be absent from our future inheritance-not a joy in which as Christians we appear delighted, that we shall not find awaiting us, but perfectly purified, and unspeakably magnified, in our Redeemer's kingdom! That is indeed worthy the name of an inheritance where all are heirs, and yet where nothing is divided; but where each shall enjoy an abundance of which no mortal tongue can tell the extent-where our communion with God shall not be momentary, but perpetual-where our union with the Redeemer shall be of a nature so certain and unquestionable, that it shail form the one great subject of our thanksgiving, the one great crowning joy of all our joys throughout eternity-where our intercourse shall be unchequered by those sinful differences, those selfish jealousies, those unholy suspicions, those unchristian coldnesses, which mar the happiest state of Christian fellowship on earth-where all shall be loved equally, and each desire above all other happiness, the increase of each other's joy, and the advancement of each other's honour, as tending in
the same proportion to the increase of their own gratification, and to the extension of their Redeemer's glory.
"Such is a faint and imperfect-alas, how faint and imperfect!-such is a faint and imperfect view of that blissful inheritance for which the Apostle blesseth God the father of our Lord Jesus Christ.
"But there is yet one peculiar feature, which to every true and obedient believer in the Lord Jesus Christ, must yield, while in this world, a ten-fold joy. It is, says the Apostle, an inheritance reserved for you who are kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation:' that is, in other words, THIS GLORIOUS INHERITANCE IS KEPT FOR YOU, AND YOU ARE KEPT FOR it. Here is a boundless motive for gratitude, the one substantial ground for present peace-not that there is, in some far distant and far happier clime, an inherit ance incorruptible, undefiled, and that fadeth not away, to which you might by some possibility attain, but of which you can possess no comfortable assurance below. Would this be comfort? It might be in your minds a certain undefinable longing for something which appeared desirable when opposed to the comparative worthlessness of all in which your hands are engaged, or for which your hearts are striving; but it would not yield the peace which can defy the world and its impositions, the flesh and its temptations, the devil and his threats. But here is something which can, and will, and blessed be God, daily and hourly, to the humble follower of our Lord and Saviour, does bestow a peace of mind and consolation which can defy all these, and places their possessors in a state where they shall never prevail.
"There are times when you I speak now to those, and to those only, who are enabled to thank God that he has begotten them again unto this lively hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead who are conscious of this change of heart, and of this change of life, of which we have been speaking— there are times when you may feel doubtful whether you shall ever arrive at the one great object of your hope and of all your prayers an inheritance into the kingdom and joy of our Lord. Now, my brethren, at such moments call to mind the declarations of the text, and see whether it will not turn your silence into thanksgiving, your heaviness into joy. The revealed word of God declares, that the inheritance is reserved for you, and that you are reserved for it. The word that expresses this is in the original a very peculiar word; it is that which is used for those who are kept by a constant guard; so that it implies the Christian is never left alone, or unguarded on the road to his inheritance that you have a defence perpetually before you, and behind you, and around you, through which your spiritual enemies can never break, and from which they shall never force you. Your strength and your security do not depend upon yourselves; they depend upon your position. The weakest woman, the youngest child, when placed in a well-garrisoned and ably-defended fortress, may smile at the hostile army without, though thousands and tens of thousands were encamped around the walls. And is not the Christian thus situated who knows something of this security, when he has realized the truth of the declaration, The name of the Lord is a strong tower; the righteous runneth into it, and is safe?" Most blessed privilege! You are going to an inheritance which shall never fail; and you are placed in a fortress which can never be taken kept by a guard which cannot be overcome."
REV. H. BLUNT A.M.