« ΠροηγούμενηΣυνέχεια »
so Christ's followers are to be known by their works. There are some who profess to know Christ but in works deny him, being abominable, disobedienti and to every good work reprobate. The man does not appear in what he says, but what he does.
Believers in professing Christianity and dedicating themselves to Goch, have solemnly engaged to make the whole law and gospel of Christ the rule of their life, no pleą which they can make can free them from this covenant obligation. They are to be wholly the Lords. They have engaged to be his. They ought there. fore to distinguish themselves from the people of the world. What would pass unnoticed in the people of the world, would be a great crime in them. He. rod could live in adultery with his brother Philip's wife and it be thought no crime ; but it was unpar. donable for our Lord to go in to be a guest with sin. ners, or to eat with unwashen hands.
In the apostolic days it was said of the saints that the world took knowledge of them, that they had been with Jesus. Their life and conversation no doubt gave evidence that they were on the side of Christ. So christians in professing godliness have engaged to give the same evidence ; and to do this, they must be eminently holy. They must walk in newness of life--in new obedience.
4th. It is incumbent on believers to do more than others, because their conduct is more observed and noticed by the world.
We are, saith the Apostle, a spectacle to men and angels. The eyes of the world are attentively turned upon the professors of religion. They as care- . fully watch for their errors, as though they expected their fall would procure their own salvation. This should make them circumspect and guarded; they should condemn those by their lives who condemn them with their lips. The direction is explicit, come ye out from among them, and be ye separate.'
Believers are required to keep themselyes pure from the pollutions of the world. To this end, the devout Psalmist prays · Teach me thy way O Lord
* and lead me in plain paths, because of mine enemies." The malicious designs--the lying in wait of his enemies, was the reason why the Psalmist wished to be directed in duty, why he wished to be more circumspect and guarded in his behaviour.
Says a pious divine : if you walk in the unpaved way of licentious looseness, the world will not go backwards, like Shem and Japhet, to cover your na. kedness; but they will march forward, like cursed Ham, to uncover your nakedness and make it more shamefully to appear.' The ungodly make use of your weakness as a shield for their own wickedness. When reproved for their wickedness, they will bring forward your vices and follies as a defence for themselves. By your committing small errors, they think themselves justified in the commission of great crimes. They will sooner allow their own enormities, than your small infirmities. To deprive sinners of this reason, this pretext for sin, let your pure lives shut their impure lips. To your virtues, they are blind; but your foibles, they view with opticks clear.One transient eclipse of the sun, excites the astonishment, and arrests the attention of a gazing world, but when shining in his full orbed splendor; is uunoticed. One crime into which you fall, will, call forth more observations, than a whole life of the most exemplary piety. David's sin with Bathsheba, has drawn upon him, and upon religion in general, torrents of censure, and has been improved as a defence of whole lives of the most enormous wickedness. One scar, may mar the beauty of the fairest face. One wound which Christ may receive in the house of his friends, may do more injury to the cause of religion, than a thousand attacks from without.
Sthly. Believers should do more than others, that may appear that they are more than others.
The judgment of the world is not founded on pro. fessions, but conduct. If good fruits do not appear in the life and conversation of christians, their professions are vain. Unbelievers will pronounce them hypocrites and no better than themselves. To bear the name of christians, and yet walk in the courses of the wicked, is an inconsistency of which the world will take advantage. The ruling temper of the heart, is ever visible in the outward conduct. Where the heart is of a good constitution, the life will be of a fair complexion.
If the will is subdued and brought into subjection by divine grace, this will be manifest in the life and conversation; the walk will be in newness of life, in obedience to the divine law. Grace will not always lie buried in obsecurity ; it will at times appear
and cast a dazling lustre on its possessor. It is the command, the solemn injunction of Christ to his disci. ples, “Let your light so shine before men, that the seeing your good works, may glorify your father who is in heaven.
6thly. Christians are bound to do more than others, because they are hereafter to be judges of others.
As the scriptures clearly teach us, that there is a day appointed when the whole assembled universe will be judged, so they likewise teach us, that God, Christ, and the Saints, have each their parts assigned in the transactions of that day. God passes the sentence; Christ executes it, and the Saints approve of it. Do ye not know saith the Apostle, to his christian brethren, that the Saints shall judge the world ? And if the world shall be judged by you, are ye unworthy of the smallest matter?
The time is approaching, it will soon come, when we, when all the myriads of the apostate race of Adam,
shall be summoned to judgment by the trumpet of the aréh-angel. Then the wicked will come forth like miserable captives from their dungeons, filled with horror by the stings of conscience and apprehensions of their approaching doom, while the saints will rise out of their graves with joy and gladness in their countenances, and approach with rapture the solemni. ties of the judgment. Enoch the seventh from Adam, prophesied saying, "Behold the Lord cometh with ten thousand of his saints to execute judgment upon all. When the Son of Man shall sit upon the throne of his glory, ye shall sit upon twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel.'
Now, the wicked take it upon them to judge the saints. They pass their censures and pronounce con- . demnation upon God's children as they see fit. Some they denounce as the most arrant hypocrites; others as deluded fanatics, deceived themselves and labouring to decive others.
The professions and devotions of christians are frequently made a subject of ridicule by the wicked. They will accuse them of exhibiting to the world much outward show of religion, while they carry within them hearts desperately wicked : of being like whited sepulchres, beautiful without; but within full of uncleanness. The malicious censures of the wick. ed are often very forcibly felt by christians : they acknowledge them just and are depressed and overcome with a sense, of their sins, and of the dishonor they have brought upon the religion they profess. The trials they experience are so great, that they feel the full force of the observation of the Apostle• If we have hope in this life only, we are of all men the most miserable.'
But christians, you have no cause to faint. The accusations of the wicked, will not disgrace you in the view of your heavenly father. You are yet to judge the world. You are to give your according appro.
bation to the final sentence which shall be pronounced upon those guilty men, who have with such violence and malignity traduced your characters be.. fore the world. You will yet, o believer, be fully vindicated before all the assembled universe. It will be made to appear, that though you had many imper
. fections yet your motives and springs of action in religious pursuits, were good, and that they have been maliciously misrepresented by wicked men.
But how will you be able to pass a righteous sen. tence on others, for those sins of which yourselves are guilty? This consideration should induce you to take an elevated stand; to pursue a course of life, which shall reflect, lustre on your profession, and make the fact strikingly to appear, that you do, and are, more than others. By the holiness of your lives, you should show the unrenewed in heart, the wickedness of theirs. By your exemplary walk, you should endea. vour to wipe away the prejudice which the world en. tertain of religion. Let there be no longer occasion for it to be reproachfully said, “ that with your lips you profess Christ; but in your works you deny him.
7thly. The disciples of Christ should do more than others, because they expect more. They do not view this world as their abiding place ; they consi. der themselves as pilgrims and sojourners in a strange land. They are seeking another and a better coun. try, that is an heavenly. They expect soon to enter upon that incorruptible inheritance, which fadeth not away; which Christ has gone before to prepare for those that love him. John in his first epistle says, Every man that has this hope, purifies himself, even as he is pure. That hope which is like an anchor to the soul, sure and steadfast, and entering into that within the vail, never flourishes in a barren soil.
If you live thoughtless and secure here, you must not expect to reign with Christ hereafter. You can: not go from Delilah's lap of carnal ease, to Abraham'e