Page images
PDF
EPUB

.

dence of divine truth is perceived sents to the mind, may excite the it will carry conviction to the mind, affections and produce a high dethough the truth be hated and re- gree of delight, while no holy jected by an evil heart. They, love of truth exists in the heart. who now disbelieve and reject the Whether the affections be holy gospel, will know that it is true ; or unholy, can never be known and then, thongh they may not from the nature of the objects, tolove and receive it, yet they will wards which they are excited, but be obliged to believe its essential only from the nature of the affecdoctrines. Sometimes by a belief tions themselves. Many persons, of the truth is meant in the scrip- who heard Christ preach, heard tures, the same thing as receiving him gladly, and did many things, it with proper

affections. But while their affections were unhosuch a faith implies something ly, and while they neither truly very different from a speculative received nor loved his instructions. conviction, that the gospel and its There may be false and sinful afessential instructions are true.- fections in view of divine truth. Persons may mistake a doctrinal When the truth is received in a conviction of the truth with its ef- proper manner, it is loved for its fects for saving faith. But as the own beauty and excellence. And devils believe there is one God then it is spontaneously desired and tremble ; so the devils and and received, as the new-born wicked men may believe, that all babe desires the milk of the breast. the instructions of the gospel are Divine truth exactly agrees with true and yet derive no saving the affections, wbich the Holy benefit from such a belief. But Spirit produces in the hearts of though there may be a doctrinal christians. But without the pure belief of the truth without saving love of divine truth, it is never faith, there cannot be such faith rightly received and affords no howithout a doctrinal belief of the

ly delight. But since real christtruth. A person may be fully con- ians have tasted that the Lord is vinced of the truth of the gospel gracious, as new-born babes, they and of its essential doctrines, while desire the sincere milk of the they are not received with holy word. They have that pure

and affections. But no one can ever ardent love of the truth, which is properly receive the instructions so often mentioned in the scriptof the gospel without a thorough ures.

66 Neither have I conviction and a firm belief that gone back from the commandment they are true.

of his lips; I have esteemed the 3. A proper reception of the words of his mouth more than my instructions of the gospel, implies necessary food." The Psalmist holy love of divine truth. The says, "Thy word is very pure, objects which divine truth pre, therefore thy servant loveth it. I

Job says,

It is now pro

love thy commandments above he receives his proper nourishgold; yea, above fine gold.”- ment by his cheerful looks, liveThey who have such a pure and ly spirits, and sprightly conduct. holy love of the truth, desire and So a living and healthy christian receive the instructions of the gos- desires and receives the sincere pel, as the food, the support and milk of the word, and is nourishnourishment of their souls. ed and strengthened by it. And

4. The practical influence of he shows that he is alive and divine truth is implied in a proper healthy, by bis cheerful obedience reception of the instructions of the and faithful exertions in the sergospel. When these instructions vice of God. No one has any rea. are clearly understood, firmly be- son to believe, or affords any evilieved and greatly loved, they will dence to other persons, that he have a deep and constant influence truly receives the instructions of upon a person's feelings, designs, the gospel, unless he experience pursuits, exertions and enjoyments. and manifest their practical influNo other objects can so deeply ence upon bis heart and life. А affect the human mind, or so pow- proper reception of the instrucerfully influence the conduct of tions of the gospel implies, that human beings, as those objects, they are understood, believed, which are exbibited by the light loved and obeyed. of divine truth. So far as the posed, truth is rightly received, it affects JI. To show that the growth of and governs the conduct. It fills christians depends on their receive the heart and directs and controls ing these instructions. the words and actions. If a per- Though this doctrine be evison would know whether he prop- dent from the scriptures, yet many erly receives the instructions of persons do not appear to perceive the gospel, let him examine his that it is true. Many professors of own conduct. For whatever may religion appear to themselves much be our speculative knowledge, our greater in religion, and in their doctrinal belief and professed love own opinion grow much faster, of the truth, we do not rightly when they walk in the darkness of receive the instructions of the gos- ignorance and error, than they do, pel, unless they affect and govern when they are brought into the our actions. But if we truly re- light of divine truth. And some ceive the instructions of the gos- persons, who appear to be real pel, their influence will be mani. christians, have the lowest and fest in the constancy and vigor of humblest opinion of their religious holy affections and exertions, character and attainments, when A healthy child desires and re- they are placed under the most ceives his proper food. And he plain and faithful instructions of shows that he is healthy, and that the gospel. How then does it appear, that the growth of christians sary in order to show christians depends on their receiving these the nature, the importance and instructions ? To this question it the necessity of their growth in may be answered,

the divine life. But without the 1. It is only by the instructions light of divine truth they never of the gospel, that christians can clearly discover their imperfecperceive their imperfections. - ions.

ions. And without a discovery of From these instructions christians their imperfections, they would may obtain a thorough and correct think themselves perfect. And knowledge of themselves in all re- then they would neither grow nor spects. They exhibit their rela- perceive their need of growth in tions and their obligations to their religious attainments. creator, their fellow creatures and 2. It is by the instructions of themselves. By the light of di- the gospel that christians are vine truth christians discover the shown the nature of that perfecnature, the reason and the impor- tion, which they are required to tance of the duties, which God pursue and attain. Nothing but requires both in the law and in the gospel exhibits to any of manthe gospel. They also discover kind their real character, conditthe evil and hateful nature of sin ion and duty, as sinful and guilty and the extent and bitterness of creatures. Though the gospel their own depravity. From the provides and offers pardon and life gospel they discover their igno. for the chief of sinners, it does not rance and error, their wretched. in the least approve of what is ness and ill desert. Without the sinful, or allow the smallest indullight of divine truth they would gence in iniquity. It unfolds and never see, that in themselves, confirms the law of God; and rethey are wretched and miserable quires the same perfection, which and poor and blind and naked. But the law requires, not as the founin the same degree, in which they dation of justification, but as nereceive the instructions of the cessary to an admission into heargospel, they have a sight and en and as the duty of every husense of the greatness of their man being. The more christians imperfections. The most igno- become acquainted with the gosrant and erroneous persons al- pel, the more are they convinced, ways possess the greatest degree that it requires they should be a of self-conceit, self-righteousness peculiar people, zealous of good and self-sufficiency. But they, works. The gospel requires christwho imagine they have already ians to cleanse themselves from all attained and are already perfect, the filthiness of the flesh and spirnever make any progress in truth it, and to perfect holiness in the and duty. A knowledge of their fear of God. Without a thorough imperfections is absolutely neces- and faithful reception of the gospel, persons may imagine, that they influenced his exertions. . And may continue in sin, because grace

then every christian could say abounds. But divine truth teaches with him—66 This one thing I do, christians to see and feel the im- forgetting the things that are beportance and necessity of being bind and reaching forth unto those holy, as God is holy, and pure, things, that are before, I press even as Christ is pure. It is only toward the mark for the prize of by the instructions of the gospel, the high calling of God in Christ that christians are offered the full Jesus,” If christians received the pardon of their sios, while they truth, as the Lord Jesus Christ reare, at the same time, required ceived it, when he was on earth, and obliged to pursue and attain they would follow his holy and absolute freedom from sin and per- perfect example. Then the mofection in holiness.

tives, by which he was moved and 3. Christians derive proper mo- governed, would move and govern tives for growth in religious at all their feelings and conduct.tainments from the instructions of He always acted from a clear the gospel. So far as any persons sight and deep sense of divine are involved in ignorance and er- truth. And the motives, which ror, they do not perceive the mo- should influence christians, are tives, by which they should be in- wholly derived from the pure duced to advance in the knowl. truths of the gospel. If christians edge and practice of their duty. could discover their imperiections Bat the instructions of the gospel and that perfection in holiness, place before the minds of christ- which they ought to attain, withians and impress upon their hearts out the light of divine truth; yet all the motives, which the uni. they could perceive no sufficient verse can afford, to do what is motives to exert themselves for a right and to hate and avoid what constant and faithful progress in is evil. In view of these motives the divine life. Every motive to their holy affections are excited such progress is derived from the and maintained and their holy ex- instructions of the gospel. ertions receive direction and en

4. The instructions of the goscouragement. The more clearly pel discover to christians the only christians discern the instructions source, to which they can look of the gospel and the more deep- for growth in spiritual attainments. ly the truth enters their hearts, For this purpose they cannot safeso much the more are they moved ly look to themselves, nor to any to advance in the ways of God.- nutward means, nor to any created If all christians had such views of beings. The living and true God, as the gospel as Paul had, they he is revealed in the gospel, is the would see and feel the motives, only source, from which they can which awakened his affections and derive their christian growth.

[ocr errors]

IMPROVEMENT.

me.

Without the knowledge of God in they may grow by it. For their Christ Jesus, his people would growth depends upon a proper neither grow nor even live.- reception or divine truth. Christ says to his disciples, 6 Abide in me and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself,

1. From what is implied in a except it abide in the vine; no proper reception of divine truth, more can ye, except ye abide in there is reason to conclude that

I am the vine ; ye are many persons deceive themselves the branches; he, that abideth in in respect to this duty. Many to me and I in him, the same bring. whom the instructions of the gosetb forth much fruit; for without pel are sent, do not appear to me ye can do nothing.” It is whol- have their minds properly affectly through the truth that christ- ed or engaged by divine truth. ians abide in Christ and that he a

Nor does it appear to have any bides in their hearts. On this proper influence upon their conspiritual communi 'n between the duct. It is certain that many who Lord Jesus Christ and his people,

hear the truth, do not in a proper their life and growth depends. manner receive it. There are And this communion depends up- those who constantly bear the on their receiving the instructions gospel and yet peither understand, of the gospel. These instructions nor believe, por love, nor obey so bring God into the view of his its first, its plainest and most impeople, that they live and grow portant duties. They resemble in him.

the way-side, which the Savior In view of God they advance in mentions in the parable of the knowledge, holiness, usefulness sower.

66 When and happiness. He is their light any one heareth the word of the and life and strength. Their kingdom and understandetb it not, knowledge of God and their com

then cometh the wicked one and munion with him are begun, main- catcheth away that which was tained and completed by their re

sown in his heart. This is he ception of divine truth. From which received seed by the wayGod, as he is revealed in the gos- side.” There are other hearers of pel, christians derive all their spir- the gospel, who appear to be suditual attainments. Without the denly and joyfully affected by diinstructions of the gospel they can vine truth; but they resemble the have no such views of God, as stony places. And the Savior says, are necessary to their progress in 66 He, that received the seed into the christian life. It is then of stony places, the same is he, that the utmost importance, that chris- heareth the word, and anon with tians, as new-born babes, desire joy receiveth it; yet hath he not the sincere milk of the word, that root in himself, but dureth for

.

And he says,

« PreviousContinue »