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“God's workmanship created anew in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained, that he should walk in them.” He is a new creature: old occupations cease to interest: old companions to please: old allowed practices appear sinful; old indulged habits are resolutely resisted : old things are passed away, behold, all things are become new. Opinions, tempers, conduct, all are new; and all formed under the influence and in the light of God's word. Having heard the word, the man keeps it, and ponders it in his heart. It becomes the guide of his daily life: “ Wherewithall,” he says, “ shall a young man cleanse his way? By taking heed thereto according to thy word.” Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path.” It becomes his defence in the hour of temptation, * Thy word,” he says, “ have I hid
I in mine heart, that I might not sin against thee.” I have refrained my feet from every evil way, that I might keep thy statutes.” Depart from me, ye evil doers, for I will keep
I the commandments of my God.” He has pleasure in hearing and reading : “ the word is sweet to his taste, yea, sweeter than honey to his mouth." But this is not all : he derives strength and comfort, and joy from his meditation: the word is milk and strong meat, and living bread to him; it is also balm, and oil,
and wine. When a season of trial comes, he falleth not away, for there is a reality in his leaning upon God for support. His religion is not fancy, but feeling ; it is not dead theory,
; but living principle. He has learned not to trust himself in any thing : that when he is weak then he is strong: that of himself he can do nothing: that by Christ strengthening him he can do all things. He is made a partaker of that “grace of God which bringeth salvation, and which teacheth him to deny ungodliness and worldly lusts; to bring forth the fruits of the spirit, love, joy, peace, long-suffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance; and to live soberly, righteously, and godly in this present world.'
These three expressions of the apostle last quoted, comprise our self-government, our duty towards our neighbour, and our devotion to our God. In respect of the first of these, he who is a doer of the word, gives diligence that in his person he
may be chaste and temperate in all things; in his temper meek and calm; in his general manner and deportment, steady, composed, circumspect, and watchful: it is his heart's desire and prayer, that he may be no longer conformed to this world, but transformed by the renewing of his mind; that he may prove what is the good and acceptable, and perfect will of God; that he may be diligent in business, fervent in spirit, serving the Lord; and thus with respect to self-government, he desires to live soberly in this present world.
In his relative duties also he studies to adorn the doctrine of God his Saviour. In whatever station of life it has pleased his heavenly father to place him, the peculiar proprieties of that station occupy his attention.
His light shines before men. He renders to all their dues : tribute to whom tribute is due ; custom to whom custom; fear to whom fear; honour to whom honour. Whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; these he thinks of, in these he exercises himself, and thus in respect of those around him, he lives righteously in this present world.
But this is not all. Let no self-righteous moralist imagine that this is his character. The main-spring of it all, the precious secret to which none but the new-born child of
grace can attain, remains behind : and the genuine doer of the word lives godly as well as righteously and soberly in this present world. The love of God is shed abroad in his heart by the Holy Ghost given unto him. The love of Christ constraineth him, because he thus judgeth, that if Christ died for him he must have
been dead, (in sins,) and that Christ died for him to this end that he should no longer live unto himself, but unto him which died for him and rose again. He excludes all his works, positively, and for ever, from any the smallest place in procuring his acceptance with God. There he knows nothing can appear but the spotless unsinning obedience of Jesus Christ, imputed by the free distinguishing grace of God, and received and appropriated by faith ; he remembers always that he is not afterwards pardoned and accepted because he was first a doer of the word, but that he becomes afterwards a doer of the word, because he was first pardoned and accepted in Christ Jesus. * Thus by magnifying the blessing he has received, he cultivates the good seed of gratitude to the production of the good fruits of obedience. Well may we apply to such a man, the beautiful language of our evangelical poet, in his description of the effects produced by the gospel upon the natives of Greenland.
What are they now?-Morality may spare
* Good works go not before in him who shall afterwards be justified, but good works do follow after when a man is first justified.—Homily on fasting.
Has wept a silent flood, revers'd his ways,
Is he then a perfect man, an uninterrupted doer of the whole word of God ? Alas, No. Bitterly does he lament that these fair productions are not more abundant. It is his desire to obey in all things : he delights in the law of God after the inward man; he can conscientiously adopt the language of the psalmist, “ I esteem all thy precepts concerning all things to be right, and I hate every false way.” Yet still he falls into false ways; he finds another law in his members warring against the law of his mind and bringing him into captivity to the law of sin. All his good is mixed with evil: selfishness and vanity pervade every speech ; and his best exertions in the cause of his heavenly Master, are tainted by the satisfaction and complacency which he experiences, in being observed, and praised, and flattered by his fellow '
men. This conflict he is forced to feel in a greater or less degree every day. The more he strives