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passions, or allure him to crime? The promises of God are all connected with holiness: the people of God are promised growth in grace and the knowledge of Christ: they are promised joy unspeakable, and full of glory: they are promised a place at the right hand of God in the contemplation of his fellowship: they are promised purification in the blood of sprinkling: they are promised that the Holy Ghost shall dwell in them. Now all these promises tend to lead the mind to new efforts to spiritual improvement, and to place the foundation of its happiness in the spiritual improvement of its powers and faculties. If this be the case, the spiritual things of God will be found to associate themselves with all the promises, as they do with all the commandments, of the word of God; we are promised nothing that has not a direct and manifest tendency to spirituality.
If we go further, and consider for a moment the institutions of the word of God, we shall find that these, too, have their tendency to spiritualize the mind. What is the appointment of the Sabbath-day, considered as a divine institution? Is there any thing associated with the Christian Sabbath that is not calculated to rouse, that is not calculated to refine and to develop, the moral faculties of man? Is it not a day that closes our more intimate connexion with the present world, and brings us into contact with spiritual things only? Does it not hold up to us the resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ on the very ground on which we are commanded to "walk with God in newness of life, being quickened together with him?" If we take any part of the institutions of the word of God, we shall find them all having the same tendency.
But, without dwelling further on this, I would observe that the history of the working of the principles of the word of God will be found to be in keeping with the proposition we are maintaining; the spiritual nature of true religion, as well as the character of the standard itself. We have seen that the standards of false religion had no spiritual tendency; we have seen that the working of the standards had no spiritual tendency: we have seen that the standard of Christianity has nothing but spiritual tendency. Let us now see whether in the history of the working of Christian principles those spiritual tendencies are practically developed. Let us go back to the very first period of Christianity, and see how far the professors of Christianity then proved the spiritual tendency of the principles in their practice. We find them forsaking father and mother and houses and lands for Christ's sake and the Gospel's. We find them taking no
sword that they might by violence establish the kingdom which the Redeemer came to set up; but, with all simplicity, and in the exercise of reliance on the arm of that Omnipotence which could bring home the word with power, we find them proclaiming the glad tidings of the Gospel of Christ, and exhorting multitudes to come to the Redeemer, and exhorting them with success. We find them selling their goods and their possessions at Jerusalem, and laying them all at the feet of the apostles, that every man might have distributed to him the property thus amassed according as he had need. We find them scattered by the hand of persecution, and going every where preaching the word: we find them suffering in every part of the Roman empire for the principles they held, and yet still maintaining them with holy perseverance: we find them rejoicing that they were accounted worthy to suffer loss for the Redeemer's name, when they were beaten before councils on account of the principles which they held.
If we find this to have been the case then, let us see whether it has not been the case since. We are ready at once to acknowledge that hypocrisy has existed, and existed to a fearful extent, in the church: but I am speaking of those who are obviously influenced by these principles; and we shall find this class, from the time when the apostles gave themselves to the Lord and to one another, down to this time, manifesting the spiritual tendency of the great things of God. If we show this to be the case, therefore, we must be disposed to admit the spiritual nature of true religion, just for the reasons that we are compelled to admit the anti-spiritual nature of false religions. We find, then, the standard of this religion proves the spirituality of its nature, and the history of its professors will be found to embody the spiritual principles therein stated.
I take this to be one of the strongest evidences of Christianitythat it stands alone in its claims to the character of spirituality. I take this to be one of the strongest grounds on which we can place it against all the assaults that scepticism can throw upon it. I take this to be a refutation of every calumny that can be thrown against it, and as a commendation of every truth which it announces, and every command it enjoins. If we find it to be the only religion under heaven that has possessed in its standard or the history of its professors a spiritual tendency, then to that religion we are bound to do homage as coming exclusively from God. Where could we expect to find the author of the spiritual religion which we discover in the word of God, if we are not allowed to say we have found it as
coming from God himself? What evil spirit could have devised such a pure and hallowed system as we find in the word of God? Would an evil spirit have suggested such a pure moral scheme? Would it have occurred to a wicked man? And if it came not from a wicked man or a wicked spirit-if it is too pure to be the result of the contemplation or the advice of either the one or the other; from whom did this spiritual system come, and what is the origin to which we are to ascribe it? It is not the fruit of chance; this perfect, morality-for even infidels allow it to be perfect-this perfect morality, with its spiritual tendency, must have come from some source. Did it come, as I have already asked, from imperfect man? Can the water rise higher than its fountain? Can it be purer than its source? If not, where did these wicked men find these principles of absolutely perfect moral requirement? and if they discovered them, why did they propagate them? Was it to expose their own corruptions, to counteract their own passions, to throw back on themselves their own licentiousness, and to enable those who read them to write their own condemnation? Could this have been the reason? It is
But if the spiritual nature of religion is so obvious, another question arises: Why did not some philosopher, why did not some school of philosophers, discover a pure and hallowed scheme like this? Where did this pure system spring from; when we come to inquire into its geographical origin? In what part of the world did it make its first appearance, and by what hand? Did it appear in ancient Greece, with all its intellectual power, and all its mental and philosophical cultivation? Was it discovered by Socrates, the father of moral philosophy among Pagans: or was it among the refinements of Plato-one who writes in a style, in which some, in order to laud its purity and excellence, ascribed to the gods? Was it found in Rome in the days of its refinement? Did the moments of its purest tastes discover one principle of it? No; but it was found in the land of Canaan, a mere province of the Roman empire, in the hands of a conquered people who were not celebrated then, and have not been celebrated since, for their attainments in learning or in science. Strange it is that in a province of the world despised and set at nought, amongst a people held in contempt as ignorant barbarians, this system of spiritual religion should arise, and soar above all the discoveries of Greece and Rome in the most splendid periods of their history, and stand alone even in the midst of the efforts of modern investigation, setting at utter defiance the refinement of the most exalted minds amongst us! Take any of
the moral professors amongst ourselves (and I care not who they may be; they may be the Reids, and the Stuarts, and the Browns, who have filled our libraries with some of the soundest thinking of our day) but they possess not the characteristic purity of the word of God.
If, therefore, we find no philosophy from the most ancient to the most modern times, at all vieing with the purity and spiritual tendency of the religion of the Word of God, and yet find that word coming from a quarter so obscure, and a people so ignorant and despised; what can we conclude in justice but that the finger of God must have been in it? We are waging war with the soundest principles of common sense; we are waging war with all the ordinary principles on which we reason in common affairs; we are waging war with every thing like just and honest argument; if we do not at once come to the conclusion that under these circumstances this word must be the word of God.
The spiritual nature of true religion, then, being established, a grand question arises, and I put that question to you in the sight of God. Have you this spiritual religion? I have shown you that spiritual religion may be professed, and is professed, where it really exists not; and then the question presses upon you, Does it exist you u? If not, how is it to be obtained? What are you to do in order to secure this spiritual religion for yourselves? This pure and spiritual religion is yours, through the faith of the Lord Jesus Christ, and through that channel alone. The man who rests not upon it, and gives not himself to it, has no just views of the spiritual religion which the word of truth reveals. Let me press, then, with all affection, upon you, the importance of instituting this investigation in yourselves. Have you really received this spiritual religion? If you have not received it, may it be now applied to you in its purity, in its power, in its happiness! Then you will be found amongst the "living-stones, built up together a spiritual house, a habitation of God through the Holy Ghost," and "offering spiritual sacrifices to God by Jesus Christ." And whilst infidelity is withering, and its advocates are found only waiting till the hour shall have arrived when they shall have terminated their career in a world where they have lived only to be disappointed—whilst they are in those awful circumstances, those who worship lords many, and gods many, are without hope in the world, you will be found not only the subjects of spiritual religion yourselves, but the means of communicating it to others, that they, by the grace of God, may be partakers with you in this spiritual and pure salvation.
FELLOWSHIP WITH CHRIST.
REV. A. POPE,
SPENCER-STREET CHAPEL, LEAMINGTON, OCTOBER 30, 1836.
"The fellowship of his sufferings, being made conformable unto his death."
FELLOWSHIP With Christ is the most comprehensive, the most blessed of privileges. To have fellowship with Abraham, the chosen head of the Jewish church, in all the distinctions which were heaped upon him as the pattern of believers and the friend of God; to have fellowship with Moses, in his intimate communion with God, when he conversed with him face to face, and when his countenance beamed with the divine glory reflected upon it; to have fellowship with Solomon in his dignity, splendour, riches, wisdom, and dominion so overpowering that, when the queen of Sheba had seen all his wisdom, and the house that he had built, and all his great glory, there was no more spirit in her, and she exclaimed, "Happy are these thy servants which stand continually before thee;" to have fellowship with Isaiah in his prophetic inspirations; with Paul in his miraculous revelations, when he was caught up to the third heavens and heard unspeakable words which it was not lawful for man to utter; to have fellowship with the spirits of the glorified just, everlastingly emancipated from sin and sorrow, and with the angels in their nearness to the eternal throne, and the high honours with which they are invested; these might be deemed privileges: but to have fellowship with CHRIST, even in his sufferings, is a far nobler distinction that any that heaven or earth, time or eternity, the church militant or triumphant, saints or angels, can present, as the object of desire or admiration. Eye hath not seen the glory, ear hath not heard the blessedness, and the heart of man cannot conceive the felicity, of those who have fellowship with Christ. This honour have all the saints. "God is faithful, by whom ye were called into the fellowship of his Son." "Truly our fellowship is with the Father, and with his Son Jesus Christ." "That I may know the fellowship of his sufferings, and be made conformable to his death." We propose to notice