Page images

from you. Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about seeking whom he may devour: whom resist, stedfast in the faith.”

There are some who profess to receive the Bible às å revelation from God, who doubt whether there be any devil, or invisible spirits who are enemies to Christ, and seek the destruction of men. But surely they must be very inattentive to the Bible who can doubt of this. The real Christian finds the truth of this so abundantly aflerted, that he cannot doubt of it, and his own experience, if properly attended to, will confirm him in this. He will find many motions and suggestions in his own mind, which, from the kind of them, and the manner in which they take place, are evidently from the agency of Satan.

And he is warranted from scripture to consider the devil as having a hand and agency in all the foolish imaginations, evil thoughts and motions of his heart, and in all fin which he sees in others ; especially their opposition to Christ and the gospel, and unrighteousness and violence towards men; for he is deceiving the whole world, and works in all the children of disobedience, and is attempting to ftir up all the corruption which is in the hearts of good men. Therefore, while Christians are watching against and opposing all their own evil propensities, and acting against and endeavouring tò fuppress and counteract the sinful courses of others, they are really resisting the devil, while they consider themselves and others as criminal, for every evil motion in their hearts, and all wrong conduct, as if there were no devil to tempt them.

However great, liflicult and of long continuance this work of resisting the devil is, every Christian must go through it, and overcome, in order to obtain heaven. The Christian is in himself wholly unequal to it, but by Christ strengthening him he may go through it all

. The Christian must do the work, while in order to it he inust be strengthened by the power and grace of Christ, by which he becomes strong in the Lord and in the power


of his might. The Christian has no reason to defire that Christ should take this work out of his hands, and resist and conquer the devil and his lufts without the agency of the Christian; but ought to consider it as a great privilege to be obliged to do the work himself, and conquer, in the strength and power of the Redeemer.

Sermon X.

The same Subject continued.


Phil. ii. 12, 13. Work out your own salvation with fear

and trembling : for it is God who worketh in you, both to will and to do, of his good pleasure. T has been attempted to shew in the preceding dif.

course, though in an imperfect, defective manner and degree, what the Christian has to oppose, fupprefs, mortify and overcome, in working out his own salvation. This may be called the negative part of his work, confisting in renouncing and departing from cvil; and is all comprehended in the apostolic injunction, “ That ye put oif, concerning the former conversation, the old milan, which is corrupt according to the deceitful lusts :" [Eph. iv. 22.]

Secondly. We come now to consider the positive part of that work in doing which Christians work out their own salvation, which is summarily expressed in the following words : “And that ye put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness."

This implies much, and consists in a constart, careful endeavour to conform to and obey the divine commands in heart and life, to live foberly, righteously and godly in all things to the end of life. This may be di

vided into two branches, viz. the duties of which God is the more direct object, and those which more immediately respect man,

To God they owe their whole felves, and all they can do. They must love him with all their heart, soul, ftrength and mind. This implies a variety of strong, constant exercises of heart towards him, as he is revealed in three persons, the Father, Son and Holy Ghost; especially as he has appeared God manifest in the flesh, in the character of the Son of God, and Saviour of the world, exhibited in his words, and works of obedience and suffering, his death, resurrection from the dead, afcension to heaven, and reigning gloriously there ; and in his revealed future designs and works,

They must believe in God and in Jesus Christ, that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them who diligently seek him. They must attend to, believe and realize his being and whole character as he is revealed in the Bible, with all the important and leading truths which are contained in it, setting God always before their eyes, and trusting in Chrift for pardon and complete redemption, which implies all they want or can desire, diligently seeking the divine favour through him, or for his fake. Thus they must live a life of faith on the Son of God, defiring to be found in him, not having their own righteousness, which is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith ; heartily defiring and seeking his Spirit to dwell in them, and form their hearts to every Christian exercise and duty, and doing all in the name of Christ, in the exercise of a cordial love of his whole character, and pleasing approbation of the way of salvation of finners which is revealed in the gospel.

They must be heartily devoted to the glory of God, to his honour, interest and kingdom, as the supreme object of their desire and affection. This is necessarily implied in supreme love to him, in which they give themselves wholly away to him in the exercise of the most friendly, benevolent love, rejoicing in his being, felicity


and glory. This is in a true and in the highest sense dif. interested affection, and neceffarily excludes all felfishness, so far as it takes place, as it cannot proceed from felf-love as the ground of it, but is directly contrary to it, as it gives up all selfish affection and interest, for an infinitely greater, more worthy and important interest and object'; making the being of God, his interest and honour, their supreme interest, the object of their highest regard, and ultimate end, to which all other beings and interests are wholly subordinated, as not worthy any regard, but to be rejected when they come in competition with the honour and interest of this infinitely great, worthy and glorious Being. By this disposition and exercise of heart alone. do they comply with the apoftolic command, « Whether ye eat or drink, or whatever ye do, do all to the glory of God. And that they who live, should not henceforth live unto themselves, but unto Him who died for them and rose again.” And thus they enter. upon and live a life of true and real self denial. The more Christians are swallowed up in views of the glory of God, and their hearts desire and rejoice in the unchangeable and eternal glory and felicity of the Infinite Being, as the object of their whole pursuit, interest and happiness, which does not consist in the least degree in felfish affection ; the more is their own salvation promoted, and the greater is their enjoyment, and the nearer do they get to heaven. The perfon who, under the influence of self love, or selfishness, seeks his own personal intereft, honour and felicity supremely (and this is the unchangeable nature of every degree of self love) exerts the whole strength of his soul in direct opposition to the Christian affection now described; and as he regards himself fupremely, he subordinates the being, felicity and glory of God, that he may answer his own selfish ends thereby, and cares nothing for the for. mer, afide from his own supposed personal intereft, or any farther than the latter may be promoted thereby. Such an affection is the strongest contradiction to all truth, and does love and make a lie in the highest and


most emphatical sense. If the smallest pebble, or one grain of sand, should be selected and preferred to the whole material world, comprehending this earth, the fun, moon, and all the stars, and no regard be paid to the existence, order and beauty of the whole, any farther than they relate to that single grain, and contribute to support and favour that infinitely small portion of the material world ; this would not be more unreasonable and contrary to the truth, yea, it would be infinitely iefs so, than for one individual person to pay a supreme regard to himself, and subordinate the Infinite Being to his own private, personal interest and happiness, who is so great, worthy and glorious that there is infinitely less proportion between such individual and Him, than there is between the least grain of sand and the whole material creation.

There are too many professing Christians who embrace and pursue a scheme of practical religion which is as unreasonable, contrary to truth, and absurd, as this appears to be. They say that it is impossible for men to love God, so long as they consider him to be displeased with them, and think he does not love them ; that he niuft first manifest to them that he is their friend, and loves them, and they must believe it, before they can love him; that in this way they were brought to love God, and to be reconciled to his character and law, and to ail the truths and duties of Christianity; they were brought first to see and believe that God loved them, and on this foundation only they first began to love him, and continue to be friendly to him. Thus they declare that all their regard and love to God is nothing but self love, for they love him only because he is a friend to them, and will answer their own selfish ends, and promote their own personal, selfish interest, and subordinate their Maker, and all his interest, to their own beloved selves. Their religion is all built on an impossible supposition, viz. that they had evidence that God loved them, before they had any love to him, and while they were his enemies ; which is directly contrary to scripture and reason. But


« PreviousContinue »