« PreviousContinue »
graciously helped by him, who never said to the seed of Jacob, “ Seek ye me in vain.”
The Antinomian and the self-righteous error are both reprobated in the Scriptures of truth.
Whilst we would carefully avoid those metaphysical niceties, which darken the simplicity of the Gospel, we should pray to discover those subtle webs, which Satan weaves to catch the feet of the unwary
Divine truth is beautiful in its own simplicityand grand in its own sublimity. Every human addition, like paint on the diamond, obscures its lustre.
An honest heart, and a sincere intention to please God in all things, will clear the path of duty from many a stumbling-block, which the pride of human reason has cast up; for “if any man will do his will, he shall know of the doctrine whether it be of God."
Men in general are more ready to argue a point in divinity,
than to crucify a beloved lust. Those who are much acquainted with the religious world, will find many polemical disputants for one self-denying follower of Jesus.
The apostle was compelled to say in his day : “there are many unruly and vain talkers." And such characters have been found in every age of the church, to the annoyance of the humble Christian.
The Bible is not given to us for disputation, but for edification. And its doctrines are designed to have a practical tendency on the mind and heart.
If real Christians, who differ from each other on some abstruse points of theology, were to meet on the ground of our common Christianity; they would be surprised to find how nearly they approximate each other in genuine experience and practice. They would, with delightful feeling of joy, recognize a brother, where they expected to meet a foe. The weapons of controversy being thus laid aside; and agreeing to differ on points confessedly abstruse, and beyond the power of finite reason to solve ; they would cheerfully hold out the right hand of fellowship, and exhibit to the world that charity, which is the bond of perfectness, and the beauty of the church of Christ.
This is a state of feeling devoutly to be wished for. May this spirit of mutual love and affection abound more and more amongst the true followers of the Lamb. Then will each member of the church militant, by their holy walk and conversation, prove their election of God; and all the members of the body mystical, deriving daily nourishment and strength from their glorified head, be growing in a meetness for the “general assembly of the firstborn," however they may differ in their views on some of those deep things of God, which can only be unravelled in the world of light and glory. It is no small artifice of Satan to engage the mind about non-essentials; and to beget amongst Christians a spirit of strife and contention.
This artful enemy has succeeded too well in all ages, to the grief of good men, to the weakening of the good cause, and to the joy of the enemies of the Gospel of Christ. All this only tends to confirm the Scripture doctrine of human corruption, and Satanical agency.
It calls for great watchfulness, circumspection, and prayer; as well as humility and dependence on the Spirit of truth.
The grand design of God in his revelation of mercy, is, the display of his own perfections in the salvation of his fallen creatures. Hence the command to perishing sinners is : “ Look unto me all ye ends of the earth and be ye saved, for I am God, and there is none else, and besides me there is no Saviour." Whilst the exhortation to believers is : • Work out your own salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God that worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure.”
Blessed Lord, give me that wisdom which is from above. Preserve me from falling into those errors, which would excuse spiritual sloth, or feed spiritual pride. Bestow upon me the spirit of prayer; and give me grace to live in the spirit of my prayers.
Cause me to walk before thee with a humble, loving, obedient heart; that, living a life of faith in thy beloved Son, I may work by thee and for thee, while it is called to-day, before the night cometh when no man can work.
Where'er I turn my eyes within,
Deceit, ambition, lust, and pride,
But Jesus comes ! the mighty Lord !
Glory to God in heaven above,
Come, mighty conqu’or of the heart,
XXI. ON THE CAUSE OF SCEPTICISM.
What a multitude of opinions we find in the religious world. How many different sects and parties; each walling themselves round with their own peculiar tenets, and maintaining their own views of doctrine as the only standard of truth. But in the midst of all this diversity of sentiment, how busy is the great enemy of souls in sowing the tares of uncharitableness, angry zeal, violent passions, and every unchristian temper in the Gospel field.
The visible church has too long been the arena for combats, which have ended in deluges of blood. Witness those many persecutions which have been carried on by Christians against Christians in almost every age.
0! Almighty God, look down upon thy church, the vine which thine own right hand hath planted, that the boar out of the wood may not waste it, or the wild beast of the field devour it. Return, we beseech thee, O! God of hosts, look down from heaven, behold, and visit this vine.
It may be useful to inquire, from whence arises all this angry disputation in the professing Christian world? It arises chiefly from the pride of our hearts.
To contend earnestly for the faith once delivered to the saints, is a duty; “to give place, no, not for an hour," to those who seek to destroy the foundation of our faith, is a duty.
There is however an existing evil of great magnitude, and which springs from that pride of intellect, which seeks to be wise above what is written.
Man is not willing to act upon the plain, revealed command of heaven. He must search and
into the secret counsels of Jehovah. He wishes to ascertain why the Almighty issues such and such commands. He endeavours to bring every revelation
from God, to the rule and standard of his own peculiar mode of reasoning; and when two declarations present themselves before him, apparently opposed to each other, though practically leading to the same point, viz: the glory of God and the salvation of the soul; instead of humbly receiving both, as stated in the word of truth; and seeking to draw from each the practical improvement intended by them ; he cannot rest, till he has filled up the seeming chasm with his own confused ideas, thinking thereby to vindicate the ways of God to man!
Now as each inquirer claims an equal right to fill up this chasm in his own way, and as very few will entirely submit to the system of another; so on this account it is, that the Christian world is filled with such heterodox opinions.
Thus, leaving the sure path of revealed truth, men plunge into an ocean of inexplicable difficulties and by labouring to be wise above what is written, become very fools in divine things.
Lord, grant that I may never exercise myself in matters which are too high for me ; which thou didst never intend should be fully known in this present state ; nay, which I cannot comprehend, till the natural blindness of my understanding be wholly removed.
In heaven all darkness will be excluded. Here, I know but in part; there, if admitted by thy grace, I shall know, even ás also I am known. Make my soul then, O! Lord, as a weaned child. Give me that simplicity of faith, which cheerfully receives as truth, all that thou hast revealed, though mystery surround me on every side.
I find many plain and clear declarations, which nothing but a wilful hatred of the truth can misrepresent and pervert. On these I would continually dwell; from them I would draw all the sweetness