Billeder på siden

his mode of existence or of life.

He can never, therefore, escape from the pervading power of depravity. He may check one tendency by another, counteract one motive by another just as in the physical world, one law may be made to controul another, and effects may be produced by their combination which neither could singly produce. But we can never rise above these laws. All power, after all, is in obedience. So man can never rise above his nature-all education is within its sphere. Hence the utter and absolute impossibility of transferring himself from a state of depravity to that of holiness. He must be BORN again. The new nature must be imparted, and as it tends to God, it must come from God. Until the Divine Spirit shall renew us, we are incompetent to perform a single work that is acceptable to God. The victims which we bring to the altar are only lifeless carcasses. It is idleness to talk of a discipline in holiness to him to whom the primum mobile is wanting. Neither does the Bible leave us, after imparting the elemental

germ of holiness, to the principle of habit, or any other law of developement and growth, to effect the perfection of our being. Having brought us into a state of fellowship with God, it maintains that fellowship by constant communications of His love-by unceasing assistances of grace. We are committed to the tuition of the Holy Ghost, and under His guidance and inspiration we rise from one form to another, until we are rendered meet for the inheritance of the saints in light. Hence the subjective states in which our holiness is manifested are not denominated habits but graces. They are not acquisitions but gifts; and to remind us perpetually of the source of all the excellence that attaches to us, the very language we employ is a confession of our own impotency, and an acknowledgment of God's free favour.

I have now completed what I had to say upon the ethical system of the Bible. The true light in which redemption should be habitually contemplated is that of a Divine institute of holiness. Its immediate end is to

restore the union which sin has broken between ourselves and God. It starts out with the great thought, that the happiness of an intelligent and moral creature is not something foreign-not the possession of an outward and separate good-not shining courts nor splendid halls, nor any other princely equipage of state-but the exercise of its own energies in God. To be happy it must be in sympathy with the author of its being. Upon this lofty eminence the whole scheme is erected, and all its arrangements are directed to the achievement of two results-the removal of those judicial consequences of sin which repel God from the sinner, and of those moral obstructions which repel the sinner from God. Jesus, as the daysman betwixt them, comes in and lays his hand upon them. both. He bears our sins in his own body on the tree, and thus reconciles God to us; he cleanses our hearts by the washing of regeneration, and thus reconciles us to God, and the first friendly interview of the parties takes place at the foot of the cross when we

believe in Jesus. This whole scheme involves the moral system, the system, if you please, of Divine philosophy upon which the government of God is conducted. It is the ethical system of the universe, and the Gospel is the only means, accordingly, by which we can attain true integrity. In rejecting it, we are not rejecting crowns and sceptres; we are rejecting the very essence of virtue, and it is idle to pretend to a profound reverence for rectitude, when we disregard the only means by which we can be restored to it. In this moral aspect I am anxious to recommend it to you. All your present excellencies are dead works, and when the influences which now embalm and preserve the corpse are gone, it will putrefy and stink. The first step in real moral improvement, is faith in the Son of God. When that step is taken, we begin to live; until then, we are dead in trespasses and sins.

The Love of Truth.

"Whatsoever things are true, think on these things."



THE injunction of the text, to think on whatsoever things are

true, obviously implies that the love of truth, for its own sake, is a habit which we are bound to cultivate and cherish. If it is the circumstance of their being true, which entitles these things to our attention and regard, and makes it our duty to investigate and pursue them, there must be something in truth, essentially considered, which commends it to the moral approbation of the species. It is to be regretted that philosophers, in commenting upon the obligation of veracity, have not paid sufficient attention to the habit or general disposition of the soul, which lies at the foundation of every form of the virtue

« ForrigeFortsæt »