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of that love which passeth knowledge. I address you to-day as the followers of Christ. Have you not a song of thanksgiving to Him who has granted you this unspeakable mercy? And if he has done it at the cost of the death of his only Son, and with the unspeakable condescension of the Spirit of God inhabiting your hearts as a lowly temple; and if he has led you to say with confidence, “My father, my father," O what gratitude ought to be ours! How ought we to spend our lives in honouring and glorifying God! How ought His law to be written on our hearts who has done such wondrous things for those who would have fallen finally, as well as fully, if the Lord Jesus had not redeemed us from our sins, and the Spirit of his love taught us to appreciate that redemption !
Let me impress on your hearts and my own, that since religion consists so peculiarly in this filial spirit, we must cherish that spirit in our hearts from day to day. Have we, since we last assembled all of us together for worship-have we, since it was last my privilege to address you, been cherishing this spirit of children towards God? Ten thousand blessings have been poured out on the least happy among you ; have you traced them all to God? Have those who have been favoured with many mercies blessed God that he has given them these mercies in Christ? Did you, for the nearness of the relation into which he brought you, love him more and more? Have these weeks of absence been spent in the spirit of children? Have you experienced the fulfilment of this promise, “ Thou shalt call me, My Father ?" If not, cherish it from this day forth : I pray God that it may be the spirit peculiarly amongst us all : I pray to God that the spirit of slaves may be chased away for ever ; and that instead of finding the service of God irksome and burdensome to our spirits, it may be the joy of our souls. May God grant that our obedience may be henceforth a most willing service, and that we may rejoice in his promises with most abundant hope.
But I am addressing some who are not at all conscious that God has given them the spirit of children ; who cannot say that God has taught them to call him their father; but who know that all their religion (if it deserves the name), is the fear of, and the desire to escape, the punishment which they know their sins deserve. Is that religion? What do you more than others? What is there in a disposition like this beyond those in whose hearts there reigns bitter enmity towards God? If you have no wish but to secure some enjoyments in another world, the nature of which you little understand, and which, is they were fully explained, you would not relish, is that religion? There is no piety in it; there is nothing that should afford the slightest blame to those doubts which sometimes harass you ; nothing which should induce you to suppose you have passed from death unto life. To have the arrow of conviction driven deep into our hearts, and the links of bondage rivetted fast upon our limbs, is better than to be careless. It is better to heal the clanking of the chain, and to feel its burden, than to suppose we are free when we are bound down to sin, and the bond-slaves of Satan. But it is not piety. To have no love for God's ways, to ave no delight in God's perfections, to taste no sweetness in calling him your father—is this religion? Is this the character of those who are fit for heaven? Is this the employment to which the children of God are destined hereafter ? There must be something far, far better: and I would impress it on all who feel that this change has not been given to them, that the spirit of slaves has not been exchanged for the spirit of children, I would impress it on your memory—and it is essential to salvation because it is essential to true religionthat you will never know anything of God in Christ till this spirit is imparted. Seek it, then, as one of the greatest blessings, in all those means with which you are favoured, and to which the word of God may prompt you: seek it through Christ by the Spirit: and never rest till, with a joy of heart far better than any earthly good ever did or could bestow, you can say, “My father," believing that
THE LORD THE CHRISTIAN'S INHERITANCE.
REV. H. HUGHES, A.M.
BEDFORD CHAPEL, CHARLOTTE STREET, SEPTEMBER 11, 1836.
“ The Lord is his inheritance.”—DEUTERONOMY, X. 9.
As it is out of the power of any but those who have experienced them, to comprehend aright the blessings which God bestows upon the real Christian, so is it impossible that, when experienced, any language can be found by which they may be adequately described. As there are some natural scenes, of which, owing to their wonder and sublimity, or the intricacy and minuteness of the detail, it is impossible to convey a correct idea by any representation of art, so the Christian's hidden life, after all the efforts of description, and all the powers of language have been exhausted on the subject, to the worldly man is a hidden life still; the eye must have pierced behind the veil which separates the visible from the invisible, and have fathomed the deep things of God, ere we can understand all that is meant by the privileges of the true believer, and the promises vouchsafed to him by the Almighty.
Accordingly, the promises of Holy Scripture are for the most part presented to us under general statements, and couched in general terms; calculated, indeed, from their manifest excellence and beauty, perceptible to the most superficial observer, to influence the heart and captivate the affections ; but only in fact exhibiting a broad outline of splendour and glory, which the believer fills up from the treasures of his own experience, and touches into completeness with a pencil enriched from the resources of actual enjoyment.
These observations will apply themselves to a promise which, under different varieties of expression, is not seldom presented to the real Christian in the Gospel of Jesus Christ, namely, that “the Lord is his inheritance.” It is evident that some great and unusual
blessing is signified, when we are said to be in possession of the Eternal One, whom the heaven of heavens cannot contain; but it is only by the work of the Spirit of God, actually applying this blessing to the heart, that we can really know all that the promise contains, and become acquainted with the infinite abundance of its mercies. We are obliged to declare most explicitly, that it is with this as with all other promises, they can only be adequately known by those by whom they are experienced and felt, and language is utterly powerless to convey them in anything like their reality to the dead and unconverted soul; still, however, to this, as to others, there is attached a general meaning which it may be useful to all to ascertain, and I earnestly pray that the Spirit of God may be with us in the inquiry, that it may be to us for awakening, for consolation, or for strength.
“ The Lord is his inheritance." The obvious meaning of having the Lord for our inheritance is, that we have dedicated ourselves to his service, that we have surrendered ourselves altogether to him, the energies of the body and the faculties of the mind, to do his will and advance his kingdom and glory; again, that we have secured him as our own for ever, that we are attached to him as a man to a possession which he cannot alienate; further, that we have, as it were, the use of the Lord God Almighty, that his perfections and his grace are guaranteed to us to be employed for our personal interest and advantage; and, lastly, that we are in the actual enjoyment of those blessings which belong to living in a state of favour with the righteous Governor of the universe. “ The Lord is the portion of mine inheritance and of my cup; thou maintainest my lot. The lines are fallen to me in pleasant places; yea, I have a goodly heritage.?
Now to have the Lord for his inheritance is a privilege that attaches itself to a man the moment that he becomes interested in the promises of the Gospel. As soon as he hears, believes, and obeys the message from on High, separates himself from the world, and is added as a member to the true Church of Christ, that moment does God surrender himself to him as his portion : “ Thou art my portion, O Lord; I have said that I would keep thy words.” And it is a privilege that goes on into eternity ; it is not interrupted by the separation of the soul from the body, nor by its passage into the scenes of an untried existence: “My flesh and my heart faileth, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion for ever.” In life
and after death, in time and in eternity, the true believer has the Lord for his inheritance, and we shall attend to these two divisions in endeavouring, by the blessing of God, to make an edifying and practical application of the present text.
First, IN LIFE the true believer realizes the promise, and has the Lord for his inheritance.
First, Because he deliberately chooses him in preference to the charms and allurements of the world. We know well there is another inheritance more obviously presented to our view: even the world with its allurements, its vain and shadowy delights. With every persuasive argument it commends itself to our choice. It presents an unreal image to our view, decks it with all the fairy colours of imagination, and pushes it forward to our embraces. It excites the senses, and promises them gratification; it subdues the understanding, and makes it believe that there is something really good and substantial in those things which it so lavishly promises ; it enlists the reason in its service, supplies food to the passions, and captivates the affections. And all the while it is leading us away from God, and godly things. The natural sin and irreligion that have their seat in every heart, being combined into one mass of action and of opinion, and deriving ten-fold strength from the accumulation, rush on in rebellion against the Almighty with fearful impetuosity, and hurry us along in an almost irresistible torrent. If it does not commit us to gross sins, though even these are too much countenanced by the world, it yet produces deadness of feeling, a dislike of all serious religion, and a total disregard of the interests of the immortal spirit. It solicits the young and amiable, to whom the hopes and fears, the joys and promises of religion more particularly address themselves. It establishes its dominion over the old, even when every thing connected with it is just escaping from their grasp. We are aware that efforts are often made to combine these two inheritances, the Lord Jehovah and an ungodly world; or to possess the one here, and to establish a claim to the other in eternity. But the two are utterly incompatible, they cannot co-exist, nor can the things of this world be to us an introduction into glory.“ The portion of Jacob,” says the prophet, “ is not like them : for he is the former of all things, the Lord of Hosts is his name.” The lesson is emphatically repeated by our divine Master : “ Ye cannot serve God and Mammon.” Again it