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My dear hearers, the point I am now upon is of vast moment, as it regardeth the welfare of your souls. In truth, it entereth into the very foundation of your hopes; for, be assured of this, except you are born again, and made partakers of this new principle, this divine nature, this change of heart, this new creation in the soul, unless you are made partakers of this Grace of God, without doubt, you must perish everlastingly. This principle is proved to be real by these three things: It abideth; it overcometh; it tends toward God.
more light we have, the more we shall discern, and mourn over the tendency to evil. If we desire a gauge by which to ascertain the depth of our own Christianity, I would say it should be this, the vigour and energy of that warfare in the soul of man. Dr. Owen beautifully remarks, “I should estimate a man's strength, rather by the burthen that he carries, than by the pace that he maintains."
But it not only abideth, it overcometh. Hence, in the first Epistle of John's Gospel, 3rd chapter, 9th verse, "Whosoever is born of GoD does not commit sin, for his seed remaineth in him, therefore he cannot sin, because he is born of GOD." Why is it that he is kept from unholy practices, from wilful indulgence of a course of transgression, from the habitual commission of sin? It is because that incorruptible seed, that spark of divine grace, that new nature, that divine nature, which has been communicated to him by the eternal Spirit, is an overcoming principle. Hence, it is in the midst of all the allurements of sin, amidst all the changes of a changing world, amidst all the ebbs and flows of our enjoyment of the things of GOD, amidst all the temptations and trials of Satan, yet still the believer endures, with his face towards Mount Sion-still he is seen at the throne of Grace-still he finds that Jesus, the covert from the storm, is the only place of safety and peace-still he can say, when I find no happiness in GOD, I can find none elsewhere, but when happy in Him, this is happiness indeed. Why is this? Because he is made partaker of that incorruptible seed that not only remaineth in him, but overcometh also.
It abideth. We find, in the 5th chapter of Galatians, 17th verse. "The flesh lusteth against the spirit, and the spirit against the flesh, and these are contrary the one to the other, so that ye cannot do the things that you would." And why? Because being made partakers of two opposing principles, each acting according to its own nature, its own essential quali- | ties, the one opposeth the other, which will ever be as long as ye are made partakers of these two opposing principles. But notwithstanding this opposition, while the flesh, or that which is fleshly, abideth, the Spirit, or that which is spiritual, also abideth.
In retracing our journey, beloved, through the past year, oh, what cause have we not to praise, and bless, and adore GOD, that his grace in the soul has still maintained its own ground, struggling hard with daily, hourly enemies, placed, as it is, in direct opposition to all that corrupt and depraved nature loveth! Hence, the continued warfare in the soul of man, that truest touchstone of the work of conversion of the heart to GOD. Yes, my dear hearers, forget not, I beseech you, that the vigour of this warfare is the truest evidence of real, saving light, in the soul of man. The more light we have, the more we shall discern this pollution the
We find it a reality, because it still tendeth towards God. If you turn to the fourth chapter of John's Gospel,
you find there that remarkable conversation which our Lord had with the woman of Samaria. Whosoever drinketh of this water shall thirst again. But whosoever drinketh of the water that I shall give him shall never thirst, but the water that I shall give him shall be in him a well of water springing up into everlasting life." Observe this passage well-remark it narrowly. Here is an internal, spiritual, holy principle. It is compared to "a well of water"-not a fetid pool, a standing pond, or stagnant lake, but a well of water. this is within the heart-shall be " in him;" not a mere external thing, a mere profession, a mere name, a mere change of dress, manners, or outward pursuits, but something far more than all this, a new, inward, holy principle. And this, remark, is not the product of nature, but the gift of Christ," the water that I shall give." But also observe, "this shall be in him a well of water springing up into everlasting life." It came from GOD, it ascends to the GOD that gave it. Like the emblem that sets it forth, it seeks its own level. It mounteth higher and higher, and still it tendeth upwards. | It aspireth after more conformity to GOD, more spirituality, more hea venly mindedness. Hence the dis- | satisfaction we experience in ourselves, because we are so much what we wish not to be, and are so little what we wish to be. Hence increase of conviction of the creature's emptiness, the Lord's fulness, of the world's poverty, and the true riches of heavenly grace. Hence is it, we are drawn more and more from the region of self to Christ-find his atoning blood-his perfect righteousness more and more precious. Hence discoveries of our own weakness, poverty, and sinfulness, endear to our souls the Saviour of poor lost sinners. Hence we value a throne of grace
more than ever; and living out of the fulness of a Christ received, live more watchfully, more holily, more to the glory of GOD. But still it cometh short of its own desires. It aspireth still. It longs to love Christ more-GoD more-holiness more; and never will it be satisfied till it reach the mansions of eternal bliss, the bosom of its Father and its God. "When I awake in thy likeness, and not sin, then I shall be satisfied."-Ps. xvii. 15.
But observe, Thirdly, THAT, WHEN GRACE IS REAL, HOWEVER WEAK, CHRIST NEVER DESPISES IT. He did not in the case of Nicodemus-we do not find him upbraiding him with, Why dost thou come here by night? If thou art ashamed of me, I will be ashamed of thee. Not one reproach-not one censure; all tenderness, gentleness, sympathy, and love. And, although our Lord asked him, "Art thou a master of Israel, and knowest not these things?" yet, like a tender, patient instructor, he goeth over the lesson again and again. After saying, " except a man be born again, he cannot enter into the kingdom of GOD,” he repeats it in somewhat of another form, “except a man be born of water and of Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God." Who teacheth like him? Perhaps, if one came to us in the depth of the night, through a culpable timidity, we might almost be disposed to doubt his sincerity, and send him back. Nay, we should do so, I am convinced, if we had not been trained up in the school of deep humility and painful self acquaintance. But from his blessed lips, not one reproach, not one reproof, not one word of unkindness towards him.
The covenant engagements of Immanuel would not permit him to despise the feeble work of grace. Here was the fruit of the Spirit.
Talk of the works of God in creation so the Lord pitieth those that fear -look we to the beauties of natureyes, I would we did look to them more as Christian men, and see the wisdom, and goodness, and love of GOD in them, that we might trace up every thing around us to the Being who is their Author; but what is there in all the works of creation compared to this new creation in the soul of a man? To see a man hate himself, to see a man, like Job, bemoan himself in dust and in ashes; and yet you and I are convinced, I trust, GOD being our teacher, that such is the very posture suited to our souls. For a man, in the sober exercise of his judgment, to abhor himself in the sight of GOD—that self, that has been his idol, his hope, his all,-this is the work of the Spirit. Christ, therefore, could not despise it. Besides, it was the very fruit of his own mediation, and the reflection of the image of his Father in the soul of his child; therefore he could not despise it. His covenant engagement could not allow him, for did he despise it, he would despise the very object for which he came, which is to save not only from the condemnation of sin, but from the power and the dominion of sin.
But the love of Christ could not allow him to despise the feeblest puttings forth of grace. My dear brethren, let me ask any mother who hears me-thou seest thy feeble child in all its feebleness, thou seest him weak and sickly, with but little power, vigor, strength, healthiness-dost thou despise him because he is all this? dost thou make that one an exception? I say, love all others but that one-dost thou say so? I appeal to thine heart,-I would make my appeal to the understanding the ground work of my appeal; but on that ground I will appeal to thine heart; and I do it, because GOD does it, for "as a father pitieth his children,
him." "He knows our frame, he remembers that we are dust." When I think of poor, tempted, tried souls, with all their weaknesses, with all their infirmities, with all the sinking of their spirits, with all the feeble putting forth of their faith-when I think of their staggering under a burthen that they are hardly able to bear, I am reminded of some whom we see in the streets of London, as we pass through them, of whom we would say, would that thy burthen were less, or thy strength were more. And shall the tender, compassionate Redeemer not look on one for whom he died, to give him an everlasting inheritance, and make him a partaker of his Spirit, when his blood is sprinkled upon the door-post and lintels of his heart? What! will he say to him, "Because thou art so feeble, I despise thee; because thou art so weak, I reject thee?" Never.-It is not in the heart of Christ to do itnot only is it not in his covenant engagement to do it, but it is not in his heart. Oh, that thou wouldst never so think of him, poor, weak, and tempted believer, any more for ever! Oh, that thou wouldst never, never entertain one hard thought of him more! Oh, that thou wouldst never take occasion, from the feebleness of thy grace, to reason against the strength of his love!
But when I turn to God's word, what light does that throw on this part of my subject! I again remind you, he gathers his lambs with his arm, and carries them in his bosom, in the very tenderest place of all. I again remind you of that beautiful exhibition of his love in the 63rd of Isaiah-" As the beast, (14th verse) goeth down into the valley, the Spirit of the Lord causes him to rest." And how does the beast go down into the valley? Does he not stop from
time to time to take rest as he goeth | despise the feeblest grace in yourselves. down, and do we not see how gently If the Lord does not despise it, behe is led down by his owner lest he ware how you despise it. It is one should slip, and stumble, and fall? thing to acknowledge our faults, it is And is not that a tender exhibition of one thing to bewail our short-comthe love of Christ towards his weak ings, it is one thing to have a deep and his feeble ones? And when I sense of our sins; and I confess, from turn to the 7th chapter of the Songs my inmost soul, that I never hear a of Solomon, 12th verse, and see how prayer in which there is not much acthe Lord gets up early to the vine- knowledgment of sin, that it does not yard to see if the vine flourishes, and seem to me a prayerless prayer; for if the tender grapes appear, and the I never can believe the soul that pomegranates bud forth, to see the liveth near to Christ, that tasteth much first openings of grace, to see the little of the grace of God within, but will dawnings of fruit. When we read feel its own sinfulness, and confess his language to his servant, "Feed that sinfulness before the eternal my lambs." What do I see unfolded, GOD; but it is one thing to do this, my beloved, but that the Lord Jesus and another thing not to acknowledge Christ does not, indeed, despise the the work of GOD's Spirit in one's own day of small things, he does not, in- soul. It implies a great defect of deed quench the smoking flax, he does spiritual light not to acknowledge not, indeed, break the bruised reed, what God has wrought. It springs and if the Lord despised not his people, often from a latent principle of selfbeware how you despise them? a sort of supposition that he has attained it himself. And while it is a still more deplorable exhibition of selfcomplacency, to think that he brought it into his own soul by his own work, if it is of grace it must be of mere grace, yet is it also censurable not to acknowledge it. This is true healthiness of soul-when under the teachno-ing of GOD's Holy Spirit, a man hath a deep sense of his own failures, shortcomings even in desire, misdoings as to real attainment, and yet a deep and grateful sense of God's amazing goodness, both in the work done for him and the work done in him. Oh many a dear child of God that heareth me hath cause for deep lamentation and deep contrition, remembering how often they have overlooked GOD's work in their own hearts. If Christ despise it not, neither do you. It may be feeble, but it is real.
We see many flaws, many imperfections, many things that cause our heads to hang down for our brother; and too often instead of lamenting over his faults and labouring to restore him, we doubt the reality of his grace; and because we see flaws in his character, (finding, I suppose, so few in our own), we are ready to suppose he is thing but a deceiver. Oh that harsh spirit of judgment, it just hath its foundation in self-ignorance! I always find in every congregation, in every church, in every believer, in myself, just in proportion as the spirit of judgment prevaileth, the spirit of self-ignorance flourisheth also; that man is always the most backward to be severe on his brother, who is most severe on himself; that the man who takes himself to task the most deeply, has the least heart to act with severity towards a poor feeble fainting timid child of God. Beware, then, how you despise others.
But now let me add a word of caution. I believe there never was a sermon of this kind preached but what, in some degree, while it was
And I would say, beware how you
The other remark is this, "the di
made a blessing, in some degree it | self rich in goods, now I feel myself to was turned by some into evil. Some be wretched and miserable, and poor, will make this sort of preaching an and blind, and naked; I want as much excuse for remaining satisfied with a now the grace of God as ever I did; low degree of grace-a low enjoy-more than ever I did; I want the blood ment of GOD; and I believe there is of Christ to atone, I want the righmuch of truth in the observation, that teousness of Jesus to justify, I want the in our congregations numbers shall be spirit of holiness to sanctify, I want found, in this our day, that are just wisdom perpetually, strength perpesatisfied with having been brought as tually, to keep me from my own poor sinners to the cross of Christ, folly and my own weakness, and that and there they remain, and hardly every moment. Is it so, my brother? expect the seal of the Spirit, the Thank God he has made thee poor in clearer discoveries of God's love, and thine own eyes, but it has been to a higher blessedness in their lives enrich thee with himself. and conversation. They touch the hem, and they are, in a sense, satis-ligent soul shall be made fat,”—Prov. fied. It is a most unhealthy state. xiii. 4. The man who pleadeth the Here is the spirit of slumber. To most in secret prayer-the man who such I would say, Why satisfied with betaketh himself most to the throne touching the hem? Never here be of grace-the man who there pleadeth satisfied till you lean on the arm of the efficacy of the Redeemer's blood, Jesus, yea, lean on the bosom of and who loveth to confess sin wherJesus. Ask for all that God has pro- ever he findeth it, and not only to mised, pray earnestly for a rich com- confess but forsake it-the man who munication of all that GOD has cove- loveth the word of GOD, and secret nanted to give. The more you have, meditation on GOD, shall find means the happier you shall be; the more of grace in his soul. Oh, my brethren, hearty you live to GOD, the more if we could sift this people, I would shall you find a heaven below; and ask no questions as to who they are, how much there may be enjoyed of or whence they come, under what heaven in this world I believe few of name they rank themselves; indeed, us have any adequate idea, or any due I ask myself that question as little as consideration of. any man can on the face of this earth; but I would just say, if you could sift the people, and the most spiritually— minded of those that are now present could be marked out by GoD, those who live the nearest to GOD-I mean those who are conscious of the least defilement upon the conscience, those who most wish to commend themselves to GOD in their secret walk as well as their outward behaviour-if you could search those men, you would find those who are the most diligent in prayer, the most unwearied in watchfulness, take their sins to GoD, and there, under the view of the atoning blood, show they hate the sin
With two remarks I shall conclude. Is it asked by you that hear me, point me out the way through which the Lord communicates more grace. Through Jesus he communicateth more grace, in the way of humility. "He giveth grace to the humble." James iv. 6. My brother, art thou in the valley of humiliation? Hast thou learned lessons that thou never didst learn before? Dost thou feel, concerning thyself, that thou art a poor, needy, ignorant creature. Perhaps at this very moment, in thy secret retirement before GOD, thou mightest be ready to say, I once thought my