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diately connect it with the fear of death ; and thus the admission of its daims seems to you, the admission of a sad and settled fear of dying soon or suddenly: and the bare idea of this is so unpleasant, that, to avoid it, you-evade the claims of religion. You see clearly that you must number your days, if you would apply your hearts unto wisdom : but you do not see how wisdom cheers the heart that is applied to it. You forget too, that a christian has other things to number at the same time with his days. You think of him, only as counting them upon the dim dial of suspense: but he is counting, too, the number of the great and precious promises of grace ; the number of the lovely and lafty prospects of glory; the number of the tender and intense sympathies of his Savior; the number of the sanctifying and consoling influences of the Holy Spirit; and the number of the thoughts, perfections, and purposes of the God of salvation, which are covenanted upon his side. 0, there is more to number than “ the days of the years of our life.” They must be numbered, we would become wise unto salvation : but then
, in applying the heart to that wisdom, we are allowed to number them upon the dial of a special providence, which the unsetting and Bashifting “ Sun of righteousness" for ever illuminates. Christians, bving as christians, do not live at the hazard, nor in the suspense, you do. You utterly mistake in imagining that, because they do not put the evil day afar off, nor forget their latter end, they thus make the world one vast valley of the shadow of death to themselves; or turn the lights of heaven and earth into sepulchral lamps; or interpret the barmories of creation as voices from the tomb. No, indeed ; this is neither the spirit nor the tendency of the wisdom, which believers learn from Christ : its natural influence is to endear all that is good and lovely in life, and to “turn the shadow of death into the morning" of a glorious immortality.
I am neither pretending nor painting whilst saying this. I would, indeed, fain charm you into the habit of considering your latter end; because my heart's desire is that you should be wise unto salvation; but I would not cheat you into the habit. I will, therefore, readily, although sadly, allow, that you see many christians in bondage to the fear of death, and any thing but cheerful on the pilgrimage of life. This ks . bowever, their own fault. Either they have not sufficiently applied their bearts unto the wisdom of the gospel, and thus missed its strong Esisolation ; or they are indulging some wrong habit or temper, which grieves the Spirit of God : for neither you, nor yet an enemy of the cross of Christ, can point out one feature of the gospel which is in the least calculated to make a christian gloomy, or to throw a gloom over any thing in life, that is really good, or practically useful. The gospel proclaims free pardon, paternal love, special providence, and certain glory: is there any thing gloomy or depressing in these promises ? And these are its promises, whatever may be the opinions or expectations of some of its professors. Let them, therefore, be blamed or pitied as their case requires ; but do not confound the gospel itself with the confusion of the weak, or with the distress of the inconsistent. This is a unfair and unmanly towards religion, as it is towards taste, to confound the vices of poets with poetry, or the eccentricities of artists
with art, or the vagaries of philosophers with science. In understa ing, be men!' pp. 35–39.
• Depend on it, there is a gross fallacy in your opinion, or a gr defect in the appeals which are made to you, if you suppose that de stands at the door of piety, either to alarm or to sadden believ The Savior actually and officially keeps back the hand of death, we may have time to apply our hearts unto wisdom ; and he soft the aspect of death, that we may enjoy composure whilst trying to come wise unto salvation. It is not in order to confine our thoughts death, nor in order to fix them upon the grave, that God binds us “ nuniber our days.” He calls for this consideration of our latter e for the sake of a far higher purpose, and of a far happier emotion. G takes no pleasure in human musings about mortality, for their a sake. Nor does he teach us to try to find pleasure in them. Death a curse; and, therefore, the author of life and fountain of wisdo teaches no such unnatural lesson, as pleasure from contemplating dea as death. What He teaches is, how the curse may be turned inte blessing, and the natural fear of death blended with a hope full of i mortality. O yes; it is all for the sake of that wisdom by which this effected, that God calls or cares for the habit of numbering our day He knows perfectly, and we too know well, that whilst we banish thought of dying, we can banish all the claims of salvation : and the whilst we refuse to number our days, we shall not number our mercij or our responsibilities; and, therefore, He teaches this moral arithmeti Besides, and I adjure as well as beg you to remember it, the gospel the word of eternal life, and, therefore, it will only treat with man an heir of eternity. It is not chiefly because we may not live long i this world, that the gospel is so urgent and authoritative in its appeals but because we cannot " live always” in this world. Eternity is in evitably before us! There is the real reason, for pressing on us thu duty of keeping in sight the end of time. God's object is not to vex nor to pain, nor to terrify us, but to inspire us with the sublime consciousness of our own immortality, that we may spring up from the trammels of days and years, to lay hold on eternal life. He wants man to be manly in godliness ; and, therefore, He treats him as a man, and that with god-like solemnity, and father-like tenderness. In a word, He as much consults our happiness when He sets us to number our days, as when he crowns our days with health and prosperity : for as the latter are intended to furnish us with opportunites of becoming wise unto salvation, so the former is intended to enforce and secure the improvement of these opportunities.' pp. 42–44.
3. On manly views of salvation.
Among the many points of view in which the oracles of God exhibit the salvation of the soul, that is not the least instructive, which represents it as the life of the soul. “ Hear, and your soul shall live." “ He that believeth on me hath everlasting life.” The soul, indeed, can never die, in the sense of its becoming extinct. lis endless being is a matter settled by creation. It is the
well-being of the immortal soul, that is called its life ; and that life may commence now, as well as continue forever; for as the happiness of heaven will consist in the perfection of knowledge, character and safety, the present happiness of the soul is altainable here, just so far as these may be acquired. But it is as possible to attain some holiness here, as it is impossible to be without it there. The safety of the soul on earth may be rendered as certain here, as the stability of an angel in heaven. God revealed, is the same being as God unveiled, and may therefore be known and enjoyed on the footstool, as really as before the throne. The revealed fact, that God is love, is just as true here, as that fact unveiled is transporting there; and, therefore, it can prodace in us some measure of the same joy. The revealed fact, that the Lamb slain can save unto the uttermost, because he ever liveth to intercede, is just as true here, as the sight of his interCession is inspiring there; and, therefore, the belief of it may impart a degree of that happiness which is created by the sight of it. It is in degree, not in kind, that the spiritual happiness of heaven differs from the joy and peace which spring from believing the truth conceming salvation. We trifle, then, with the gift of eternal life, if we regard it as something only and altogether known in the next world. It is as much intended for present use, as for future enjoyment; and never can it be a future blessing, to those who do not obtain the principle and hope of it, as a present blessing. What then is to be done, that the soul may live unto God here, and with God hereafter? The ready answer of the gospel is, Believe in the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved. But many persons do not understand what believing is. They do not propose any thing definite to be done by them, in believing. They regard it rather as "some great thing," which they would be very glad to obtain, than an intelligible act which they are immediately to perform. Now much of the confusion and doubt which are felt on this subject, our author supposes, and we think, justly, would be removed, were it duly considered, that the gospel itself, when believed, conveys life to the soul.
You will understand this distinction, if you will substitute for the word “ believe,” another scriptural word, which is equally connected with the promise of salvation.' I mean, the word“ HEAR.” God says expressly, “ Hear, and your soul shall live.” Now you misunderstand the gospel sadly, if you do not see that what you hear in it is the only thing there is to believe, or from which life can be obtained. What the gospel says, is the source of faith and hope too ; so that is what we hear from it do not comfort us, faith cannot comfort us ; for there is nothing to believe, but just what is said. Looking out to the gospel for TRUTH, and not looking into the heart for faith, is, therefore, the way to obtain salvation. All the hope, all the encouragement, God gives to us, is in what He tells us of bis mercy in Christ Jesus. It is by “glad tidings that He gladdens the heart; and, therefore, it is only in listening to the and in welcoming them as such, that the Holy Spirit renews the hea
Let no one confuse you on this matter : there is nothing in faith self, but believing; and there is nothing to believe but just what G says. What else could there be, seeing that “faith cometh by hearin and hearing by the word of God :” It is, indeed, “the fruit of Spirit :” but let the eternal Spirit himself tell you how He produces “The Holy Ghost saith, to-day if ye will hear my voice.” Heb. ill. R member also, how the Savior summed up, in his apocalyptic appeal, his ministerial lessons on the office of the Holy Spirit: “ he that hath a ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches.” This ¢ -teaching to profit! Here we are solemnly and authoritatively summone away from all idle and vague wishing for the work of the Spirit, give immediate heed to the word of the Spirit, if we want to experiene his influences. This is an intelligible process, for becoming wise unt salvation, by faith in Christ Jesus. It is also a testing process ! A ma may flatter himself, that he is very willing to be a true believer, so lon as he regards faith only as a grace or a gift he has to wait for ; but let him fairly meet the claims of the gospel on his immediate attention and mark, impartially, how he likes to hear it seriously—to read it prayi erfully,—to ponder it deeply, to submit to it meekly, and act on it honest ly, so far as he understands it,—and he will soon see the real state of his heart before God, as well as discern the mighty difference there is be tween waiting for a gift and seeking for one. The sober fact of your case is, that you just desire faith as much as you delight to acquaint yourself with the way of salvation ; and no more than you are concerned about your own salvation. The real degree of your willingness to be indebted to grace for the gift of faith, is, just the degree of your willingness to give “good heed” unto the things which belong to your everlasting peace. If you are not inclined to lay them to heart now, you are not willing to be a believer now, nor yet waiting for faith. You are, in fact, standing idle, in a place, a position, and a spirit, to which that gift of God is not promised. Hear the Spirit! if you would have the Spirit to help you. Show that you prize and long for His renewing work on your heart, by listening with deep attention to His word, concerning all that Christ has done, and all that God in Christ is. This is the truth to be believed! It is to give this truth the force of truth on the mind, that the Holy Spirit works and witnesses. pp. 59—63.
4. On manly faith in providence.
To the “well-being" of man, it is important to know, that “there is a God who judgeth' in the earth ;" that his providence extends to all things, and that it is mediatorial. Christ has received an unchangeable dominion, together with an unchangeable priesthood; and the design of both is the same. “Power is given him over all flesh, that he may give eternal life to as many as are given him.” Under his government, the system of providence is a system of moral influence to reclaim men from apostasy.
« God is our King of old, working salvation in the earth.” It is the joy
of his people to know this ; to consider themselves individually the subjects of his care, and the objects of his sympathizing regard in the changes of their lot; and to be assured, that in all these changes, the end for which he endured the cross is never for a momeut forgotten. By all these things, God ostentimes labors with men to bring back their souls from the pit, to be enlightened with the light of the living: and they have only to yield themselves obediently to the design, that it may be accomplished in them.“ All things shall work together for good to them that love God;” nor is it any good for which they shall work together; but a good, definite, infinite, and eternal. Salvation is the end.
There is a loose philosophy, which, in consideration of the greatness and grandeur of the universe, considers the affairs of this “speck” in the Creator's dominions, and more especially the affairs of individuals in this little world, as too insignificant to be the objects of his providential care. It might be worthy of the Deity to sustain the great laws of nature, and superintend the universe as a whole; but to hear the prayers and manage the concerns of worms on his footstool, is deemed beneath his majesty. Such philosophy is not less unmanly than it is unchristian. The slightest reflection might suggest that nothing is too insignificant for God to govern, which is not too insignificant for him to have created. It is surely not unworthy of him to suppose, that he had a wise end in the creation of every thing ; nor is it less so to regard him as directing it to its proper use. It would be easy, also, to show, that such are the connections and dependencies of things in the universe of God, that there can be no providence over the whole, which extends not to its minutest parts. And what more affecting impressions can we have of the majesty of God, than in the view of him as extending the same controlling agency over atoms and worms, as over suns and worlds. What must hé be, who is capable of guiding the sparrow in his fall, while worlds move at his command ! Least of all worthy the Infinite Mind, is the theory which confines his attention to the mindless part of the creation ; which refers to his care mere masses of matter, and excludes him from the province of life and mind,—the sphere which has a more particular resemblance to himself, and with which, therefore, he can have a closer intercourse and deeper sympathy. In truth, this whole system, while it pretends to exalt God, is founded in low conceptions of him. Disparity between his creatures is nothing in the comparison of creatures with God. It is not a mere figure
, it is a demonstrable truth, that to his view there is no difference between the seraph and the worin, in comparison with the difference between the seraph and himself ; as that which is finite is lost,—is nothing, in comparison with that which is infinite. He humbleth himself to behold things which are done in heaven, as