Billeder på siden

Satan, and the devices of false contrite, and submissive spirit is
gradually formed, both in respect
In like manner, the consistent of God, and his brethren and
Christian is humbly sensible of his neighbours. Every part of the
own weakness; and when he is Christian temper and character
actually influenced by his princi- depends on this, and springs from
ples, he will not dare to say, "though it, as from its proper root: and that
all men deny thee, yet will not I;" person is not much conversant in
but rather, "hold thou me up and the Scriptures, who has not observ-
I shall be safe," "lead me noted, that more is there spoken in
into temptation," "hold up my approbation of this disposition of
goings in thy ways, that my foot- mind, and that more encouraging
steps slip not." Experience hath promises are made to it, than to
convinced him, "that when he is any other part of that "holiness,
weak, then is he strong," and that without which no man shall see
"when he thinks he stands, he has the Lord:" for "he resisteth the
most cause to take heed lest he proud, and giveth his grace to the
should fall" so that he is consci-humble" (Isaiah lvii. 15; lxvi. 2;
ous that he has no power in himself, Luke xviii. 14; James iv. 6; 1 Pet.
either to resist temptations, endure v. 5). So that all notions, gifts, and
tribulations, face dangers, or per- experiences, which consist with al-
form duties and that he can only lowed prevailing and habitual pride,
"be strong in the Lord, and in the ambition, self-exaltation, boasting,
power of his might" (2 Cor. xii. and contempt of others, are radi-
9, 20; Eph. vi. 10; Phil. iv. 13). cally defective; and give cause to
Thus simplicity of dependence on suspect, that they are wholly de-
God for teaching, assistance, pro-tached from the power of godliness,
tection, forgiveness, acceptance, and the special grace of the regene-
sanctification, &c., are produced rating Spirit of Christ, however
and maintained: the believer be- splendid they may be.
comes more and more poor in spirit, II. Another branch of the Chris-
a beggar in every thing, and a con- tian temper may be comprised in
stant pensioner on the Lord in all the word submission.
Submit your-
circumstances, and on all occasions. selves to God," says the apostle;
And though even this peculiarity of and that view of the Divine perfec-
the true believer partakes of that tions, law, government, and grace,
imperfection which pervades his which springs from evangelical prin-
whole character; and he often be- ciples, tends to counteract and
trays and is humbled for the pride crucify the self-will and desire of
of his heart, and continually laments independence; which predominate
his proneness to self-exaltation; in our fallen nature, and are the
yet in this manner, "boasting is" source of all our rebellion against
habitually "excluded," with self- our Maker. This submission is

[ocr errors]

preference, self-admiration, and con- diametrically opposite to the distempt of others: and, in short, all positions of men in general; and in the varied workings of ambition, its full extent cannot be produced arrogance, insolence, vain glory, and by any other principles, than those envy, with the numerous evils of of the holy Scriptures. The efficacy which pride is the prolific parent, of divine truth upon the believing are opposed, hated, mortified, and mind tends to produce a willingness crucified; and a lowly, self-abased, to submit the understanding to the

[merged small][ocr errors][merged small]


teaching of God: and instead of and good order in human society; hankering after the forbidden fruit" giving honour to whom honour is of the tree of knowledge, or count- due," "and submitting to every ing it more pleasant to discover ordinance of man for the Lord's matters for ourselves by the suffi- sake." This submission is a duty ciency of our own powers; it leads of vast extent; and the disposition us to submit as the scholar to his habitually to aim at it, and when tutor, to believe what the Lord tes- we have failed to return to it, in tifies, and to rest satisfied with it; every respect, is peculiar to those leaving secret things, which belong who are born of God; and all the to him, and thankfully using reveal-opposition of our hearts to it, arises ed things as the light of our feet from the remaining pride and selfand the lantern of our paths. The will of our nature, and is a proof same principles tend to produce that we have not hitherto been submission to the will and authority fully influenced by our principles. of God, deeming his service perfect But patience, resignation, confreedom, his commandments not tentment, and acquiescence in the grievous, his yoke easy, and his will of God respecting us, constiways the paths of peace and plea- tute so important a part of the santness. Submission to his righ- Christian temper, that they require teousness springs from the same a more particular consideration : source; and the man who truly and they are so essential a branch believes the word of God, will of submission to God, that whergradually become more and more ever any appearances of them are unreserved in allowing his justice found to be wholly separated from in the sentence of condemnation other parts of this general disposiwhich he hath passed upon sinners tion, we may be sure that they are in general, and upon him in particu- mere counterfeits, the result of nalar: in consequence of which he tural insensibility, affected apathy, will also submit to his sovereign thoughtless indolence, or presumpwisdom and righteousness in the tuous obduracy. Evangelical prinappointed method of saving sinners, ciples so effectually inculcate the and in all things relating to it; doctrine of our total unworthiness, whilst unbelief proportionably vents and that we all enjoy more than we itself in objections which involve deserve, and suffer far less than the most daring blasphemy. This what is due to our sins; that, as far will connect with submission to God as we are influenced by them, they in respect of his instituted ordi- must silence our rebellious murmurs nances, as means of grace appointed and repinings against God; they by him, to be made efficacious by lead us also so entirely to trace his blessing; and as acts of wor- every event to his appointment as ship by which we are required to the first cause of all our trials, that render him, in a measure, the hon- they tend directly to counteract our our due to his name. And finally, propensity to despise his chastenthese same principles tend to pro-ings, or to vent our uneasiness duce habitual submission to his pro- under trouble in expressions of vidence in respect of our outward anger against instruments and sesituation and provision; and of cond causes: they give us such a those appointments and regulations ground for confidence in the mercy, by which he hath been pleased to truth, power, and love of God, and restrain vice, and to promote peace for the animating hope of future


happiness, as suffice to support the conscious that he comes far short of believer, and to preserve him from his perfect rule and example; and fainting or desponding under Divine this covers him with shame, and rebukes; whilst the persuasion that excites his earnest prayers for mercy infinite wisdom and everlasting love and grace: but his views tend to have chosen, and will overrule render him cheerful at all times, every event for his more important and in all circumstances, as they good, is suited to produce a rational, give the fullest assurance, that reflecting and abiding aquiescence every event will conduce to the in the will of his heavenly Father. final and eternal good of all who The Lord hath many wise and kind love God, (Rom. v. 3-5; James i. reasons for allotting his people those 2-4): so that all the discouragethings which they would never have ment, despondency, and disquietude chosen for themselves; if they knew of religious people spring from other the whole intent of his most pain-causes, and are directly contrary to ful dispensations they would cer- their principles. A humble confitainly approve of them: for every dence in God, in respect of the affliction is medicinal to the soul, future, is also of great importance: and conducive to its sanctification. but this hath been considered as one Thus the Christian's principles lead of the believer's privileges (Essay him to consider his station, abode, XVII); and need not further be employment, provision, trials, losses, discussed in this place for indeed disappointments, and vexations as our duties and our privileges are the will of God concerning him : seldom more distinct than the same and this induces him to aquiesce in object viewed in different lights, or them. He "learns" in the school the same idea expressed by different of Christ, "in whatever state he is, terms. therewith to be content;" and as III. The fear of God is another far as he acts consistently with his part of the Christian temper, which judgment, he views every dispen-evidently results from the principles sation in a favourable light, and of revelation. There is indeed a realizes the paradox, "sorrowful, slavish fear, which hath torment, yet always rejoicing." He seeks that love casts out as far as it precomfort from God, when other com- vails (1 John iv. 18); but we speak forts are withdrawn; he is taught of that reverential fear of the Divine to wait the Lord's time for deliver- majesty, authority, holiness, and ance," patiently continuing in well-glory, which produces solemn awe, doing," without using any sinful humble adoration, serious recollecexpedients, or deserting his path or tion, and jealous circumspection; work, to escape the cross. He which induces a man to act habitulooks for trouble as long as he con- ally, as in the presence of the alltinues on earth; he esteems sin to seeing and heart-searching God, and be a greater evil than affliction; and influences him to universal consciin the character, sufferings, patience, entiousness, even in his most secret and glory of his Divine Saviour, he actions, and in respect of his inmost finds every instruction explained, thoughts; which teaches him to and every argument enforced, by regard with profound veneration which resignation, confidence in the name, word, works, counsels, God, and joy in tribulations are decrees. and judgments of the Lord: inculcated. Indeed, in this, as in which helps to constitute the upall other respects, the believer is right, spiritual worshipper in all his

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]


ordinances; and which causes a man | light of his countenance gilds every to fear the frown, and desire the object, alleviates every trouble, and favour of God above all things else. enhances every comfort. Lively E This "fear of God" is the effect of gratitude for mercies, inestimable, special grace, grows in harmony inexpressible, and unmerited, keeps with holy love, and will be perfected pace with his hope of acceptance; with it when the Christian shall and he cannot but most earnestly join the company and worship of inquire, "what he shall render to seraphim before the throne (Psalm the Lord for all his benefits?" The lxxxix. 7; Isaiah vi. 1-8; Heb. same views produce zeal for the xii. 28). Every truth of revelation glory of God and the honour of the concurs in giving us those views of gospel: and the believer is habituGod, and of ourselves, that are suited ally disposed to consider what effect to produce this reverential spirit: his conduct may have on the minds the total want of it, therefore, must of men in this respect: whence huevince that many high affections are miliation, circumspection, and care false, and much overbearing confi- to improve his talents must always dence unwarranted: and that man arise. In all these affections and must be very imperfectly acquainted dispositions there will be a par8 with evangelical principles, or but ticular regard to the Person of partially influenced by them who is Christ, as One with the Father and greatly deficient in it. the Divine Spirit, and the equal obIV. The love of God is an essen- ject of all love, confidence, honour, tial part of the Christian temper; gratitude, and adoration, (Essays but it must be very briefly discussed VI. VII. XIII.;) and an habitual in this place; as in many things it disposition to meditate on his sufcoincides with the first table of the ferings and love, to rejoice in his law, which hath been already ex- exaltation and the success of his plained (Essay IV.) The truths of gospel; and to desire that his name the gospel, when received by living should everywhere be known, trustfaith into the regenerate heart, are ed in, and loved; and that his peowonderfully suited to excite and in-ple should prosper and be happy. crease admiring love of the Divine This love of Christ is the grand perfections, as displayed in all the constraining principle of all evanworks of God: but especially in gelical obedience, and devoted subthat of redemption by Jesus Christ: jection to him who bought us with hence arise fervent desires after that his blood: and the several disposifelicity, which is found in contem-tions towards God, which have been plating his glory and enjoying his enumerated, constitute the spirit of love. The soul begins" to be athirst for God;" and in proportion to the prevalence of this holy affection for the Supreme Good, all inferior objects lose their attractions! so that when the believer fears lest he should not obtain the happiness of the beatific vision, but should at last be banished from the presence of V. The true believer is spirituGod; he can take no pleasure in ally minded: that is, he is disposed worldly prosperity: when his com- to seek his happiness in spiritual munion with the Lord is interrupted, things, because he is capable of all other joys seem insipid; but the relishing and delighting in them.

adoption; for when we have in this manner the temper of children towards God, the Holy Spirit bears witness, according to the Scripture, that he is our Father, and that we are his sons and daughters; the regenerate and adopted heirs of his heavenly inheritance.

Other men may have a task of re-few brief observations on what hath ligion; but the world is their ele-been said.

ment in which they live as much 1. Every attentive and impartial as their consciences will allow reader must perceive, even from this them; but the believer" has tasted imperfect sketch, that revelation is, that the Lord is gracious," " he re- principally, intended to lead men to members his love more than wine," proper thoughts of God, and suitable "his soul has been satisfied, as with dispositions and affections towards marrow and fatness, whilst he him. They who suppose the moral praised the Lord with joyful lips." precepts, which relate to the conÎn proportion, therefore, as he acts duct of men towards one another, consistently with his principles, he to be the most important and vaeither finds joy and pleasure in com-luable part of Scripture, certainly munion with God and doing his mistake the leading intent of it: for will, or he mourns after him. He godliness (or a disposition to befeels that he must be miserable un- have towards God, according to the less God, his exceeding joy, vouch-glory of his perfections, and our resafe to make him happy: he sepa-lations and obligations to him) is rates from many companies and the first object, both in the compursuits, to spend his time in the mandments of the law, and in the closet, in the house of God, or in doctrines and promises of the gosthe communion of the saints; not pel: and the sins, against which only from a sense of duty, but in the Lord always expresses the most order to enjoy his most valued plea-vehement indignation (such as sures, and to avoid whatever may atheism, idolatry, apostasy, unbeinterrupt them: and when he can- lief, enmity against him, contempt not find comfort in this way, and is and forgetfulness of him, blasphemy, tempted to seek it in the world, he &c.), may be habitually committed is ready say, "Lord, to whom shall by men of good moral character, I go? thou hast the words of eternal who are honest, sincere, benevolent, life." This is an essential part of temperate, or peaceable, from selfish the Christian temper; all attach- principles: but these things will ments to worldly trifles arise from not excuse hatred and neglect of our not being duly influenced by their infinitely glorious Creator and our principles; and, as far as we Benefactor. Indeed, a man cannot act consistently, we shall attend to be godly who is not moral: bethe lawful concerns, and use the al-cause we are required to express lowed comforts of life in a sanctified our regard to God by behaving well and holy manner. to our brethren and neighbours. But a very copious subject yet 2. The principal value, even of remains the temper of the believer divine truth, consists in its sanctitowards his brethren and neighbours fying efficacy on the minds of beis equally worthy of our attention. lievers. Many "imprison the truth Many things, indeed, which might in unrighteousness;" and the docbe here adduced, will occur to us trines of the gospel are often prowhen relative duties come under fessed and contended for, with such consideration. It is, however, too arrogance, irreverence, and fiercecopious and important a topic to be ness, that it is plain they are not comprised in a very small compass ; principles in the heart, meliorating it will, therefore, be more expedient the disposition; but mere notions to annex a second part of this Essay, in the understanding, serving as an and to conclude at present with a occasion of gratifying malignant

« ForrigeFortsæt »