Billeder på siden
[ocr errors]

to him, and " he will give them of the fountain "of the water of life freely;" and assures the trembling sinner, that " he will in no wise cast "out any one that comes to him." It runs in this gracious tenour, "Ask, and it shall be given you; "seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you: for every one that asketh re"ceiveth." As therefore every blessing is freely given, for Christ's sake, to the poor supplicant, however unworthy; nothing but pride, unbelief, contempt of heavenly things, aversion to God and religion, or idolatrous love of the world, can exclude any sinner from this "great salvation." Every part of the plan is free from ambiguity: our wants are distinctly stated; promises are given exactly answering to them; means are appointed, in which we may apply for the performance of these promises; and God pledges the honour of his faithfulness, that every one, who seeks the blessing in the appointed way, shall certainly obtain it. Delays and difficulties may intervene to prove our sincerity; but sooner shall heaven and earth pass away than any word of God shall fail of its accomplishment.

The assistance likewise, proposed by the gospel, tends to produce a peculiar conduct and conversation in the true believer. Evil habits, corrupt propensities, bad connexions, and strong temptations are not easily broken off and mastered; and our resolution is found by experience to be unequal to the conflict: but the promised assistance of the Holy Spirit enables the Christian to surmount every obstacle, and to resist and overcome all his

enemies. He feels that he can do nothing of himself; but he finds "that he can do all things "through Christ who strengtheneth him."-Thus by "waiting on the Lord he renews his strength," and rises superior to those difficulties which all other men find in the event to be insurmountable.

The assurances made of an abundant present and future recompense, to those who renounce temporal things for the sake of Christ and the gospel; the supports afforded in seasons of trial and affliction; the authoritative and perfect example set before us; the obligations conferred upon us; and the glorious prospects that open to our view; are all of them exceedingly influential on the believer's spirit and conduct.-But we must proceed,

III. To mention some leading particulars in which "a conversation becoming the gospel of "Christ," more especially consists.

Every doctrine of the gospel requires, and is suited to produce, humility in all its variety of exercises. The whole seems arranged on purpose to lay us low in self-abasement, to exclude all boasting and glorying in ourselves, to produce deep repentance, to render us poor in spirit and contrite in heart, and to form our dispositions teachable, lowly, unambitious, and unassuming. When therefore we speak and act in this manner, our conversation is consistent with our principles, and "becomes" our profession: but self-confidence, self-importance, vain-glorious vaunting, desire of praise or pre-eminence, and an unteachable, dogmatizing, or overbearing deportment,

are more unbecoming and odious in one who professes to believe the gospel, than in any other person.

From this deep humility, patience, contentment, and thankfulness must proportionably arise. "It "is of the Lord's mercies that we are not con"sumed;" our sufferings are less than our iniquities; our mercies are invaluable and unmerited; our situation is appointed by God our Saviour, in perfect wisdom, truth, and love; our light afflictions are counterbalanced by divine consolations and they "work for us a far more exceeding and "eternal weight of glory." So that it becomes us to be resigned, satisfied, and thankful, in all circumstances: and repining, fretfulness, and discontent, are entirely inconsistent with evangelical principles.

Confidence in God likewise peculiarly becometh the gospel of Christ. "The Lord is our light,

"and our salvation: whom then shall we fear?" "If God be for us, who can be against us?" To be calm and collected in perilous situations; to recognize the hand of God in the alarming events of life, and hence to assume courage and cheerful expectation; to rely on his providential care amidst temporal losses and difficulties; and in every case to say, "It is the Lord, let him do what seemeth "him good;" becomes the character of his redeemed people. But too often he may rebuke us and say, "Why are ye so fearful, O ye of little "faith?"—We act also consistently with our principles, when we take pleasure in attending on the ordinances of God; when we count the holy day

of rest honourable and delightful; when we are glad to have it said to us, "Let us go unto the "house of the Lord;" and when we prefer his courts, and the communion of the saints, above all other places of resort, and every other kind of society. It becomes the professors of the gospel to abound in praises and thanksgivings; to reverence the name and the word of God; to worship him in their families with evident alacrity as well as punctuality: to seek his blessing on every undertaking; to praise him for every deliverance and benefit; to act habitually as in his presence; to devote themselves to his service; and to seek all their happiness from him: and, whatever is contrary to this is unbecoming the gospel, and dishonourable to our profession.

Even worldly men, while they charge our doctrines with a licentious tendency, expect more from us in our conduct towards them, than they do from each other. This evidently appears to be the case for a single instance of immorality, in one that professes the gospel, excites general attention, and becomes a topic of discourse; while the numberless crimes of other men are very slightly noticed. This should remind us, that strict integrity, veracity, sincerity, and punctuality to our engagements, become our profession : and that both the world and the church will charge us with inconsistency, if we at all deviate from this direct uprightness of conduct and conversation. An inoffensive deportment is likewise necessary, if we would walk "worthy of God," and "as it "becometh saints." We must no more injure a

man, from heedlessness, than from selfishness. We must not wound any person's character, interrupt his domestic comfort, or needlessly disquiet his mind. We should carefully avoid exciting men's passions, provoking them to anger, or tempting them to envy, ambition, or discontent. We should "study to be quiet and mind "our own business," without intermeddling with other men's matters; and to be peaceable, orderly, and industrious neighbours and members of the community. We ought so to avoid evil, and the appearance of evil, that none may have any thing to say against us, except it be for our religious peculiarities.

General benevolence also becomes the gospel of rich grace and mercy. Every man almost may at some times, by retrenching superfluities, do a little to shew his compassion and goodwill to his afflicted neighbours. From those "to whom much is "given much is required." There are likewise various other methods, by which a friendly disposition may be manifested; and this is peculiarly ornamental to the gospel. The more entirely we renounce all dependence on our good works, the greater alacrity and zeal we should manifest in performing them: and this will be our disposition, if indeed "we know the grace of our Lord Jesus "Christ," and understand our obligations to him who "loved us, and washed us from our sins in his "own blood." Indeed, even in this lukewarm age, the excellency of the gospel does appear in this respect; for the liberality of those who profess to rely on the mercy of God in Christ Jesus is vastly

« ForrigeFortsæt »