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The closing scene.
receiving that sacrament in a state of unregeneracy and sin. I now feel that I have renounced the devil and all his works. I think I see the emptiness of all the vain pomp and glitter of the world. I feel” (and these words were spoken with a pathos and depth of feeling of which I can convey no conception), “I feel, o how deeply do I feel, the need of a Saviour! And when I am told that he came to save the chiefest of sinners, I cannot but hope that his eye will rest in compassion upon me. I hope I feel, in some slight degree, the preciousness of Christ; and if it can be—if such a vile and worthless worm may think of so bold an approach to the feet of Jehovah—I do desire once more before I die to receive, with just views of the nature of this ordinance, the hallowed memorial of my Saviour's dying love. I have apprized my pastor of this intention, and he has named to-morrow as a convenient time. He desires you to be present, and you will confer a peculiar favour upon me by complying with this request. I desire to eat this last passover in the same company with you; and I pray to God that this may be a token and pledge that we shall ultimately sit down together at the blessed feast of the Lamb."
At the appointed time I went to witness and participate in the interesting solemnity that was to take place in the chamber of death. The family and near friends were assembled. In the two communicating rooms there might have been as many as twenty individuals. At a considerable distance from the bed sat Mr. M- apparently benumbed with grief, his head bent over, and his face buried in his hands. The children were near their father: they were young, and they looked around with an inquiring gaze, as though they were ready to ask the meaning of the signs of sorrow and grief which they beheld on every side ; for many eyes were streaming with tears. Yet, through all this melancholy group, there was the stillness and silence of death. Mrs. M- appeared beautiful and lovely as she lay stretched on the bed of death. There was a slight hectic flush upon her cheek, and an unearthly lustre in her eye, as she silently and meekly gazed around upon the company, and then looked towards the table on which were placed the elements that were soon to be consecrated.
Application of the foregoing case.
The service commenced, and its usual solemn effect was produced. Mrs. M- remained silent and singularly composed through the whole scene.
After she had partaken of the sacred elements, her eyes were closed, the hectic flush was gone, and tears gushed forth in torrents from between the closed lids, and rolled down her marble cheeks. After the administration of the ordinance, we all for a while sat in silence. At length I went to take my leave. As I approached the bed, Mrs. M-extended her feeble hand, with a smile that seemed full of peace
and eternal blessedness, and softly whispered, “We meet in heaven.” It was the last time I ever saw her. The next day she expired, calmly confiding in the Saviour.
The use I wish to make of the account I have given you, is, to direct your attention to the fact that persons do sometimes renounce the devil and the pomps of the world by profession, when in truth they are the slaves of sin and of Satan. You see that such a renunciation with the lips will not make you a Christian ; will not bring you peace in a dying hour; will not bring you into a state of reconciliation with God. It must be a hearty and real renunciation; you must die unto sin. The act of renunciation must come from the bottom of the heart; it must be the work of the Holy Spirit, slaying the enmity of the carnal mind, and purifying your souls by his sacred influence.
In this matter, then, let me entreat you to look continually to God, with this hearty desire, “Search me, O God, and know my heart; try me, and know my thoughts; and see if there be any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.”
St. Paul's fortitude instanced.
VOW OF RENUNCIATION.
“ Whom have I in heaven but thee? and there is none upon earth
that I desire besides thee.”-From the 73d Psalm.
We are informed that during one of St. Paul's tours to Jerusalem, he stopped a short time at Cesarea ; and that while there, “ there came down from Judea a certain prophet named Agabus. And he took Paul's girdle, and bound his own hands and feet, and said, Thus saith the Lord, So shall the Jews at Jerusalem bind the man that owneth this girdle, and shall deliver him into the hands of the Gentiles." Upon hearing this, the companions of this eminent herald of the cross, together with the disciples that were at Cesarea, earnestly besought him not to go up to Jerusalem.
But he, having previously counted the cost, regarded his life as nothing in comparison with the salvation of souls, and the extension of the Redeemer's kingdom. His prompt reply, therefore, was, “ What mean ye to weep and to break mine heart ? For I am ready not to be bound only, but also to die at Jerusalem, for the name of the Lord Jesus.”
The candidates for confirmation, who have been attending this series of lectures, have, I trust, already so far felt their need of a Saviour, that they will not be shaken in their resolution, or deterred from their purpose of devoting themselves to his service, from a view of the sacrifices they must make, and the attachments they must necessarily surrender in becoming his disciples. To every temptation of Satan, to every secret suggestion of their own evil hearts, and to every argument offered by their worldly friends to dissuade them from this solemn consecration of themselves to the service of Christ, they will promptly answer, What mean ye, thus to sport with my immortal well-being, and
Scope of the renunciation.
throw hindrances in my path to eternal glory? I am ready not to make these sacrifices only, but also to die for the name of the Lord Jesus.'
They whose minds are enlightened with wisdom from on high, cannot fail to adopt these sentiments. They will naturally be led to inquire, What would not the lost soul that has
down to drink the cup of trembling for ever and ever-what would not that soul give for the salvation of the gospel ? Those very pomps and vanities of the world—those sinful desires of the flesh, which it was called upon to renounce, have borne it down to the gates of eternal death, and plunged it into the fiery gulf! How bitterly will the lost soul, when chained down to the bottom of the fiery pit, curse those lying vanities which led it forward, deaf to the voice of a beseeching God, that called upon it to turn from the pathway of destruction ! What a mere nothing will all the sacrifices that Christianity now requires then appear !
In the preceding lecture, our attention was directed to what the candidate for confirmation was called upon to re
And we entered so far upon the consideration of the vow of renunciation, which is made in that solemn ordinance, as related to external agencies and things. Having explained what it is to “ renounce the devil and all his works, the vain pomp and glory of the world,” we are on the present occasion to consider what is comprehended in the remainder of this vow of renunciation, “ with all covetous desires of the same, and the sinful desires of the flesh, so that we will not follow nor be led by
make a formal and external renunciation of the world, the flesh, and the devil, and train our outward. acts into a partial consistency with this profession, while the heart is still 6 in the gall of bitterness and the bonds of inquity.” But to have this renunciation acceptable to God, there must be a thorough and radical change in the inner
If the vain pomps and glory of the world are to be given up before we can become Christians, it is not enough to renounce these by profession; it is not enough to throw them aside so as not to have any visible connexion with them. The heart must no longer turn with secret desire
Scope of the renunciation.
towards them. There must not only be a renunciation of these, but of “all covetous desires of the same." The heart must be radically changed and renewed. This is evident from the fact, that until such a change does occur, “the sinful desires of the flesh" will preponderate and prevail. “The carnal mind is enmity against God.” And what is this carnal mind ? Is it not another name for what in the vow of renunciation is denominated the “ sinful desires of the flesh,” the inclinations of our corrupt nature, which are drawing us perpetually contrary to the will of God? Before we can say in truth, “I renounce the sinful desires of the flesh," this carnal mind must be taken away, and we must have a new heart. So that every one who makes this vow of renunciation professes to have a new heart; a heart that has been purified by the Holy Spirit; a heart that has implanted in it the love of God; a heart that recoils from sin under every form, and is fully resolved to have no more to do with it for ever.
The question is frequently put to members of our church, whether they believe in a change of heart? Here is the answer to this question. No one ever becomes a member of this church, until he has solemnly declared before earth and heaven, that he has renounced the sinful desires of the flesh. If, iherefore, any man whose heart is not changed, stands up and makes this declaration, he stands before God with a lie upon his lips.
“ If the sinful desires of the flesh” be really renounced, the man is a
new creature." He is what he was not by nature. He has a new heart. He abhors what he once loved. He takes pleasure and delight in what he once shunned and dreaded. His great anxiety now is, to walk so as to please God, to do nothing to offend him, or alienate his favour. And these heavenly desires have been wrought in him by the power of the Holy Ghost.
Not only does this part of the vow of renunciation imply that we have been born again, but it is a positive declaration that it is our fixed purpose, that none of the evil passions or propensities of our corrupt nature, which still remain with us, shall be permitted to sway or influence our conduct. Though these remains of depravity still linger in our bosoms, and are every now and then springing up to gain the ascendency over us, we do not intend