« AnteriorContinuar »
Him, who is his God and Lord, and to whom he owes all his hopes of life and salvation.
5. Let us seriously examine ourselves on this point of our duty to God; for if our affection to Jesus be not such as constrains us to imitate him in every thing where he is imitable by us, we may certainly conclude that we are none of his. If we desire his blessing, we should immediately seek those tempers which he approves
Do you then pray for, and strive to have implanted in your souls, those graces for which Christ, the Head of the Church, was so much distinguished? Do you hunger and thirst after righteousness ;" and, like Jesus, do you make it your "meat and drink to do the will of God?" Do you, like him, discover a hatred to all iniquity; not committing it wilfully your selves, nor conniving at it in others? Do you crucify the lusts and evil affections of your depraved nature, by denying yourselves, and taking up the cross? Are you careful to imitate the submission of Christ to the Divine will, by a patient endurance of those sufferings which are inseparable from the present state of trial? In imitation of the blessed Jesus, do you display a readiness to forgive rather than to resent, to overlook rather than to punish, the insults and injuries offered by your bitterest foes; maintaining a spirit of charity, and not of revenge; of conciliation, and love, and not of unkindness and malevolence towards any, even the worst of human beings? If we are not habitually influenced by a prevailing desire thus to resemble Christ, we do not belong to him; but are serving another master, whose interests militate against the glory of our Redeemer.
6. Lest, however, we should make the righteous A Col. iii. 12,13.
cc Gal. v. 22-26..
sad, whom God would have to rejoice, it must be stated, that, after the sinceres endeavours to copy the holy example of our Lord, the most zealous and upright Christian will be ready to admit, with "shame and confusion of face," that, so far from coming up to the standard of perfection, his highest acts of devotion, and love, and obedience, are so defective, both in motive and end; so marred by a large admixture of sin, which attaches to every thing he does; that, instead of confiding in his own imperfect conformity to Jesus, for acceptance with God, he confesses that he is but "an unprofitable servant," and founds all his hopes of salvation and glory on the atonement and righteousness of Immanuel.·
Whilst, then, the genuine follower of Christ will lie thus abased at the foot of the cross, and cling to it for pardon and peace, he will still derive from that very trust the strongest incitements to imbibe the spirit and tread in the footsteps of his Divine Master, who hath loved him even unto death. Impelled by gratitude, he will say, "What shall I render unto the Lord for all his benefits towards me ?” And then he will demonstrate his attachment, by trying to walk with him in the path of regeneration
7. Such an imitation of the holy Jesus commends itself to our consideration by the most powerful arguments. In proportion as our minds advance in righteousness and purity, we resemble God, and his Son Jesus Christ; and, therefore, to attain that likeness, is the greatest measure of perfection and happiness of which we are capable.
Ah oh, how great is the satisfaction which attends it! Whilst engaged in the very act of cultivating holy dispositions and Christian virtues, we enjoy a sacred pleasure which affords a sufficient reward for the work of faith. And if our thoughts are di
rected forward to the bliss indescribable, reserved in heaven for those who are conformed to Christ, what an incentive does it hold forth to imitate him, as much as possible, in all the practicable virtues of his devout life!
8. What then, except the worst kind of infatuation, can make so many willing to forego all this revenue of celestial joy, for "the pleasures of sin, which are but for a season dd " and are afterwards succeeded by a remorse and sorrow that will embitter an endless existence in the world to come? Know, O transgressors! that sin likens you unto your father the Devil; and if it remain unpardoned, it will consign you, with him and his angels, to everlasting fire. This thought suggests the most forcible motives for immediate repentance, and for following Christ in righteousness and holiness all the days of your life.
dd Heb. xi. 25.
ON THE FEAR OF GOD.
Matt. x. 28. Fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.
1. "FEAR is one of the chief springs which govern the human mind. Some suitable object, therefore, is necessary to engage our fear, that we may be kept from the dominion of imaginary terrors respecting things little to be dreaded, whilst we continue duly sensible to impressions from what is of the greatest moment."
In this manner, fear is regulated in the breast of a believer. He considers that secondary cause s
are only instruments in the hands of God, subserving his will and designs; and therefore he "sanctifies the Lord God in his heart, making Him his fear and his dread ","-a God who is too wise to mistake, too just to do wrong, too mighty to be resisted, and too good to be known, without adoration of his name, and self-abasement before him.
2. The fear of a Christian produces no uneasy feelings in his soul towards God. It is not the terror of a slave, dreading the severe frown of a cruel master; nor that amazement of natural fear which deprives a man of the succours of reason, and of the power of acting in difficult emergencies; but it is the salutary fear of a creature towards a merciful Creator; of a sinner saved by the most astonishing acts of love and compassion; of a dutiful child towards his affectionate parent. "In the same proportion, therefore, as he increases in knowledge and love, he will increase also in the fear of God; for they are inseparable from each other." The inhabitants of heaven cry out, "Great and marvellous are thy works, Lord God Almighty! just and true are thy ways, thou King of Saints! Who shall not fear thee, O Lord! and glorify thy name?".
It is, then, a noble ingenuous fear of God which governs his people; a holy principle, which is the offspring of the warmest love, and which makes them afraid lest, by any acts of disobedience, they should lose the manifestation of his regard, which is better to them than life itself.
3. The united operation of these seemingly opposite graces is necessary to complete the character of a man of God. Love to him excites filial confidence, whilst it constrains to obedience: fear, under its b Rev. xv. 3,
Isa. viii. 13,
direction, restrains the soul from sinning presumptuously. Religious fear, then, under the guidance of Divine love, is the only motive that can induce us to abstain from the practice of those sins which are condemned in the Scripture because they dishonour God: and it is the combined influence of these principles that sweetly controuls our hearts, and inclines them cheerfully to perform whatsoever Jehovah would have us to do; from the consideration, that such obedience is pleasing to him, and profitable to ourselves. Hence, a holy fear is inculcated in Scripture, as a governing motive to a religious life. "The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom: a good understanding have all they that do his commandments: his praise endureth for ever.".
Consider its influence on the Patriarchs and holy men in ancient times. "Enoch walked with God;" but it was the fear of His name that preserved him from being tainted with the general corruption. "Noah was a just man, and perfect in his generation; and Noah walked with God," but he feared the Lord, and faithfully warned the ungodly world, in which he lived, to repent, lest the threatened vengeance of Heaven should overtake them. The three worthies, Shadrac, Meshac, and Abednego, confidently braved the fiery furnace, from a reverential fear of displeasing God And Daniel, the servant of the Living God, by whom he was greatly beloved, went down without horror into the lions' den, rather than displease Him, and wound his conscience by an omission of known duty".
It is the same holy fear which, in modern times, prompts good men to obey the Divine will, amidst
• Psalm iii. 10.
d Gen. vi. 9.
• 2 Pet. 5.