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teresting contents of it? Shall I not converse most frequently with those divine notices of himself, which God hias sent us from heaven? Yes, my delight is placed on this book of God; 0! how I love thy law! it is my meditation all the day.”
Has the glorious God appointed a method of worship, and required men to assemble in multitudes to address his divine Majesty? “I love,” says the real Christian, “ the habitation of thine house, and the place where thine honour dwelleth: one day in thy courts is better than a thousand.”
Has God appointed pastors and teachers for the work of the ministry, for the perfecting his saints, for the edifying his body the church; and promised to bless and succeed their faithful discourses, and to be with them always to the end of the world? " It is with raised expectations and steady attention," says the Christian, " that I will hear the ministers of the Lord; and look through the infirmities of the speaker to the appointment and promise of the God of all grace, who has seen fit to choose men to be instruments and ministers of grace to men their hearers. And has he, who was dead for my sins, and is alive again, and liveth for evermore, left with his church the memorial of his abundant goodness, and bleeding love, commanding his people to feast upon it, that his sacrifice might grow more precious in their eyes? I will, with solemn joy and gratitude, join the faithful company who eat of that bread and drink of that cup, as a public testimony that every blessing I have received of God, and every benefit I hope for, does and will descend upon me only through the atoning death of Jesus Christ the righteous.”
And though it must be confessed, that it is not in the Christian's power to be always full of delight in holy duties: though he has too often cause to bemoan the want of a more devout and spiritual frame of mind when he is using the means of grace; yet the godly disposition of his soul suffers no such change. God is still the constant object of his reverence and trust, of his gratitude and love: and therefore, whether he experiences more or less pleasure in the solemn acts of devotion, he is still punctual in them; he grows not weary of them,--but of the body of sin, which proves so heavy an incumbrance, when he would have his soul full of fervent adoration of God.
10. Humility is another peculiar and most distinguishing part of the disposition of a Christian. By his humility, is not meant his entertaining a worse opinion of himself, or abasing himself lower than he really ought to do; but his living under a constant sense and acknowledgment of his own weakness, corruption, and sin, in the sight of God. All beside himself dissemble, and offend God in this matter. For though some confess their own weakness, they magnify their attainments, and over-rate what they own to be the gift of God, because it belongs to themselves. They will not allow, that after all they have done, and all they have received, their plea must still be this, 6. God be merciful to me a sinner!" The Christian has learned better the poverty and sin of fallen man, even in his best estate. As the man who improves in learning, sees more of his own ignorance when he has made a considerable progress,
than when he first began; so the Christian, the more he advances in the illumination of his mind, and in a clear view of the extent of his duty towards God, becomes more sensible of defects which had hitherto escaped his notice, and is humbled for them. “The commandment of God,” he exclaims, requires in every the minutest instance, that I do nothing forbidden by it, nor leave undone, in heart or life, any one thing which it enjoins : that I should ever exercise a perfect regularity of affection and desire, and ever maintain a perfect rectitude of temper and of thought.”—Having his upon this purity, and acknowledging that God ought in this manner to be obeyed by every intelligent being, he clearly discerns his own innumerable failures, and his inherent depravity is without a covering. Therefore, when his deportment is, in the eyes of men, unblameable and unreproveable, and adorns the doctrine of God his Saviour in all things, still the sentiment of his heart is living and dying,
Behold, I am vile: Enter not into judgment with thy servant, O Lord, for in thy sight shall no man living be justified.'
Thus is the Christian kept humble by his knowledge of the law; and no less so by the knowledge of the gospel. “ Have my sins," says he,
rendered me so abominable in the eyes of God, that it would reflect
dishonour upon his Majesty to receive my prayers, or admit me to any share in his pardoning mercy upon a less consideration than the death and intercession of his own Son for me; and can I in this state regard myself as any thing better than a guilty sinner? Shall I presume upon my own holiness, as perfectly free from blemish and defilement, when I am not permitted so much as to ask a pardon, without imploring the mediation of the Redeemer, that I may be heard ? Thus deeply laid is the foundation of Christian humility: a grace above all others, the very antidote to the first-born sin of inan, and to every delusion of Satan. By it the Christian is made meet for that world where God is all in all: where the most exalted spirits maintain a perpetual sense of their infinite distance from God, and abase themselves before him continually in the midst of all the transporting manifestations of glory which they enjoy. “The four and twenty elders fall down before him that sat on the throne, and worship him that liveth for ever and ever, and cast their crowns before the throne.” Rev. iv. 10.
These several particulars present those excellent tempers respecting God which rule and govern every real Christian. , Now if you, who have heard this description, live destitute of any one of these dispositions towards God your Creator, Redeemer, and Sanctifier, here enumerated, you assume a character, in calling yourself a Christian, to which
you have no scriptural title. It is true these several dispositions are possessed in very different degrees by the several members of Christ's body, shining forth in some with brighter lustre, in others with less, as one star differeth from another star in glory; yet the joint influence of them all is essential to the very being of a real Christian, as the union of the soul and body is to the constitution of every individual man.
And with as much propriety and truth lifeless
be called a member of society, as the soul which is void of any of these dispositions, be numbered amongst the members of the mystical body of Christ. For what can be conceived more monstrous than a Christian who has no fear of God; a Christian who pays no absolute submission to his authority: a Christian who is ungrateful, unbelieving, and altogether selfish; a Christian without love to God and
Christ, without piety, without humility? Take away one of these dispositions, and you deprive the soul of that which is a part of its spiritual life, and without which it must expire.
Examine, therefore, and prove yourself, whether you belong to Christ. “ If a man say he hath faith, and hath not works,”-that is, the tempers by which alone the influence and power of faith can be discerned, can that faith save him? You may omit or add what you please, in the character of one you choose to call a Christian ; you may make him only a person devoted by a baptismal dedication to God; or one who gives his assent to this truth, that Jesus is the Son of God, the Christ that should come into the world, and who worships among Christians;—but the only genuine standard of a Christian is the written word of God. Now this speaks aloud to men at all times, and in all ages : it makes no difference; it allows of no abatement; it affirms in the most positive manner, and affirms it in a variety of different expressions, that “ they that are Christ's have crucified the flesh, with the affections and lusts,” Gal. v. 24. That “if any man be in Christ Jesus, he is a new creature,” his heart, once profane, now pays a supreme regard to God; is willing to obey and submit to him in every thing; seeks his honour and approbation; loves him in Christ Jesus, and delights continually in nearer and nearer approaches to him.
This, this alone is the genuine character of a Christian, even were it not to be found in one of a million, nor in one of a nation. To delude yourself with notions and fancies, however popular, however supported by the great and learned, that you shall partake of the benefits of Christ in the eternal world, without being thus conformed to his precepts and example in this, is to make Christianity deservedly the jest of infidels, and the scorn of all who can distinguish what is really excellent from a pompous useless profession. As you prize therefore the salvation of your own soul; as you would not be found a hypocrite in the day when the secrets of all hearts shall be disclosed; as you would not be the cause of infidels blaspheming that worthy name whereby you are called; O! take good heed to yourself, and see that for your own part you are found a worshipper of God in spirit and in truth: see that the
most exact observer of your manners and tempers shall be forced, if he judge with candour, to confess that the name of God is great in your eyes, and his glory all your aim.*
THE TEMPERS OF A CHRISTIAN TOWARDS HIS FELLOW
The Scripture teaches us that God has made all things for himself. Yet notwithstanding the supreme regard, which the Lord almighty ever bears to his own glory, he
so far from requiring any sort of homage from us which is detrimental to the interests of society, that it is impossible to please God, without exercising every benevolent temper towards man: for no parent ever more affectionately studied the happiness of his own offspring, or delighted in their harmony, than the Father of the spirits of all flesh delights in seeing us obey his great command of loving one another without dissimulation.
And were the divine commands in this respect universally obeyed, the church of Christ would be a perfect picture of the heavenly world, one perpetual intercourse of brotherly kindness. It is, alas! too notorious, that few in comparison of professed believers have ever been subject to this law of love. Nevertheless, it is the noble peculiarity of a real Christian to be found in the constant practice of those tempers which every man living would have others exercise towards himself; and to stand as much distinguished by the excellency of his deportment towards his fellow creatures, as he does by his faith, devotion, and zeal towards God.
I shall therefore now make it my business to delineate those several lovely tempers, by means of which the Christian proves an invaluable blessing to society. And with respect to each temper, I shall point out the scriptural motives which excite and maintain its exercise.
See Prayer the 9th.