« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »
scene of a moral conflict, and beholds it under the stirring aspect which it presents to the beings of other worlds? Where are the kindled eye, and the beaming countenance, and the heart bursting with the momentous import of the gospel message? Where the fearlessness and confidence whose very tones inspire conviction, and carry with them all the force of certainty, and the weight of an oath? Where the zeal which burns with its subject, as if it had just come from witnessing the crucifixion, and felt its theme with all the freshness and force of a new revelation?-the zeal which, during its intervals of labor, repairs to the mount of vision to see the funeral procession of six hundred millions of souls-to the mouth of hell to hear six hundred millions of voices saying, as the voice of one man, "Send to our brethren, lest they also come into this place of torment"-to Calvary, to renew its vigor by touching the cross-to the spot where John stood, to catch a view of the ranks of the blessed above. Enthusiasm is sobriety here. In this cause, the zeal of Christ consumed him—his holiest ministers have become flames of fire; and, as if all created ardor were insufficient, here infinite zeal finds scope to burn, "for the zeal of the Lord of hosts shall perform it."
6. And where is this flame to be kindled?—where is the live coal to be obtained but from off the altar? It was there the witnesses of Christ, in every age, found it; and there they kept it bright and burning. It was there that Christ himself sustained that zeal, in the flames of which he at last ascended as a sacrifice to God. Nay, what was that atoning sacrifice itself, but a more intense prayer for the redemption of the world—the prayer of blood-a prayer so ardent that he consumed himself in the utterance-a prayer which is ascending still, and still filling the ear of God with its entreatiesa prayer, from which all other prayers derive their prevailing power. And what was the object of that bleeding intercession? and what did he himself regard as the full answer to it? What but the advent of the Spirit, as the agent of a new creation? O, Christians, is there such a doctrine in our creed as the doctrine of divine influence? Is there such an agent in the church as the Almighty Spirit of God? Is he among us expressly to testify of Christ-to be the great animating spirit of his missionary witness, the church? and is it true that his unlimited aid can be obtained by prayer-that we can be baptized by the Holy Ghost, and with fire? Ó, ye that preach "believe and be saved" to the sinner, preach the same to the church-" believe the promise of the Spirit, and be saved." Ye that love the Lord, keep not silence; send up a loud, long, united, and unsparing entreaty for his promised aid. This, this is what we want. And this is all we want. Till this be obtained, all the angelic agency of heaven would avail us nothing; and when it is obtained, all that agency will be unequal to the celebration of our triumphs.
Witnesses for Christ, hear the conclusion of the whole matter: the cause of your Redeemer has come on in the heathen worldthe cause of human happiness; the destiny of immortal myriads is involved; and the world is hushed, and waiting to receive your evidence. By the love of Christ, will you not go and testify in his behalf? The destroyer of souls is witnessing against him; and millions are crediting and confirming the dreadful testimony: will you
not hasten to testify for him? Mohammedanism is denying his divinity, and is placing an impostor in his stead-will you not attest that there is none other name under heaven given among men whereby we can be saved, but the name of Christ your Lord? China is denying his existence, and one-third of the human race believe it; will you not go to proclaim, "This is the true God and eternal life?" Hindooism is affirming that his name is Juggernaut, and that he-your Lord, the Saviour of the world-that he loves impurity and blood; and millions believe it; will you not go and attest that "his name is Jesus, because he saves the people from their sins?" Shall his cross have next to no witnesses of its benevolence? shall his blood have no tongue to proclaim its efficacy? his cause no friends to espouse it? Witnesses for Christ, your Lord is in India, awaiting your arrival. He has obtained a hearing for you; and he is on the plains of Africa-at the gates of China-in the temples of Hindostan, calling for his witnesses to come and testify in his behalf. And shall he call in vain? He is saying to his church today, not for the third, but for the thousandth time, "Lovest thou Then, by the blood which redeemed you-by the benevolent design of that redemption, that you might be my witnesses-by the wants of the world, waiting to hear you proclaim my grace, and perishing till they hear by the certainty of your success, and the glories that would result from it-by the power of that cross which is destined to move the world-awake, arise, to your high preroga tive and office; call down the aid of the great renewing Spirit; and let every creature hear you say, "We have seen, and do testify, that the Father sent the Son to be the Saviour of the world.” “Ye are my witnesses."
ART. VII.-WALKING BY FAITH.
BY THE REV. R. W. ALLEN, OF THE NEW-ENGLAND CONFERENCE.
"For we walk by faith, not by sight." 2 Cor. v, 7.
THE apostle very impressively opens this chapter, by expressing his undoubted assurance of future blessedness. The language is marked with dignity, clearness, and force of expression, for which the apostle is remarkable. It is the language of confidence and assurance. "For we know, [we have the assurance, see Rom. viii, 16,] that if this earthly house [body] of this tabernacle were dissolved, we have a building of God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens." How could he have expressed himself with greater energy, perspicuity, and certainty, respecting his heavenly inheritance? It seems like the language of one on the very brink of eternity, with consummate glory in view, while the fading scenes of earth were dying away. He informs us that he knew, (not merely had a hope,) "that if this earthly house," &c. How truly blessed must be such a state of mind! He also informs us in the fifth verse how he obtained this assurance. "Who also hath given unto us the earnest of the Spirit." See also Eph. i, 14, where this same Spirit is called the "earnest [or pledge] of our inheritance." The text is thrown into the apostle's discourse by
way of parenthesis. As his discourse was calculated to enamor the mind with the beatitude of a future world, and inspire a longing desire for it, he wished to call the minds of his brethren to certain duties indispensable for that state. Thus he associates himself with his brethren, and exclaims, "For we walk by faith, not by sight." This walking by faith is indispensable to the attainment of that felicity "eternal in the heavens." While we are enravished with the thoughts of endless glory, we should not lose sight of the way by which it is attained. As without faith we “ cannot please God," so, without walking by it, or having it always in possession, we cannot attain heaven. The apostle says in another place, "I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus." Again, "And the life which I now live in the flesh, I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me."
Let us inquire,—
I. When may it be said of professing Christians that they walk by sight?
II. When may it be said that they walk by faith?
III. The superior advantages of those who walk by faith to those who walk by sight.
These divisions are legitimately deduced from the text.
I. When may it be said professing Christians walk by sight? The apostle here intimates that some walk by sight,-some professing godliness. From such he had separated himself. "We walk by faith, " &c.
1. When we trust to ourselves, we emphatically walk by sight. Self is frequently made the object of trust. With what tenacity do men cling to their views and preconceived notions! It would seem that with them rested the ability of determining what is right and wrong. But does man possess this ability? We answer, No. He is a fallen, weak, helpless, wretched, and sinful being. "They have all gone out of the way: there is none that doeth good, no not one." He has lost the power he once possessed to keep God's holy law. He can keep it now only by supernatural power. He is also blind, and hence unable to judge of spiritual things. "The natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned." Can such a being, however great his powers, be an object of implicit trust? Let the apostle answer. "We had the sentence of death in ourselves, that we should not trust in ourselves, but in God, which raiseth the dead." "For, therefore, we both labor, and suffer reproach, because we trust in the living God, who is the Saviour of all men, especially of those that believe." Here we have the apostle's object of trust,-the "living God." But is not a different sentiment taught by those who eulogize human reason, and pass such encomiums upon it as would lead us to suppose that it was the true and only standard of moral rectitude? We would say nothing against the noble powers of man, by which he is distinguished from, and raised far above the brute creation, but we would remonstrate against such powers being made. the object of the sinner's trust. The apostle, in writing to the Ephesians, says, "In whom ye also trusted," &c., showing that they had taken Christ for their only trust. Let all professing Christians take
heed in what they trust. Those who trust in human reason, with all its refinements and acquisitions, will utterly fail. Man's dark and bewildered understanding, whenever taken for a guide, will certainly lead him wrong. Revelation is a sure and unerring guide; Christ the sinner's only trust. Do not those walk by sight, who trust in any object aside from Christ? "Some trust in chariots, and some in horses: but we will remember the name of the Lord our God."
But how often is the self-trust of many exhibited in their plans and deliberations respecting the manner in which God should carry on his own work? just as if short-sighted mortals were capable of directing the Almighty in his operations on the human mind, and bringing about his purposes in the salvation of the world. Height of presumption this! Well may we exclaim, "Who can understand his ways, and his judgments are past finding out." But others, while they are willing to acknowledge God as the object of their trust in the sunshine of their prosperity, are disposed to reject him in the day of their adversity. Let fortune smile, friends caress, and nealth remain vigorous and unimpaired, and all is well. But reverse the order; let worldly prospects appear inauspicious, friends prove treacherous and forsake us, and health decline; then repining and unsubmission are apparent. This is virtually saying that God has not done all things right; that had he their wisdom, things would have been managed far better. How reprehensible is such conduct! And yet how many professing Christians are guilty of it! Has not this distrust hardened the impenitent in their sins, and confirmed many skeptics and infidels in their ruinous course? O, when will Christians cease walking by sight! Job says, "Though he slay me, yet will I trust in him."
2. When human applause is the object of pursuit, more than the glory of God. That many professing godliness are laboring for worldly honor, their conduct incontestibly demonstrates. This vain commendation is sought with much assiduity in a variety of ways. Some by dressing fashionably, or highly decorating their bodies, and carrying with them an air of importance; some by associating with the irreligious and trifling, merely because they are commended by the world. How many bearing the Christian name are often found in parties of pleasure, and scenes of worldly amusement! Such, generally, take a part in the trifling and unholy conversation common to these occasions. Others, by connecting themselves with political parties, &c., which are the most numerous, or stand the highest in the public estimation. Such would not, generally, hesitate to vote for improper men for office, if by doing so they should fall on the most popular side. And others, by uniting with those sections in the Christian Church most generally applauded by the world. Such frequently go from home, the Church to which, under God, they owe their salvation, and connect themselves with those from whom they have received no spiritual benefit, merely because (as it is commonly called) of their popularity. Apostasy generally follows such a course, or, at least, they who practise it lose all but a mere form. And is it to be wondered at? They act unworthy of the Christian name. Such conduct, while viewed with the most profound charity, is mean, base, and meriting severe reprehension. As might be expected, they are generally a curse to the church
that receives them. On a course so abject, disgraceful, and censurable, God's marked disapprobation will most assuredly rest. And are not many of the apostates, whose lives have disgraced the church, of this description? Let Christians think of this; especially those who have labored to proselyte to their particular sect such as otherwise would have gone to their spiritual homes. God abhors such disingenuousness. His displeasure will inevitably follow it. Individuals drawn into any association by duplicity are a curse to it. Let each Christian, in seeking a home in the church, go where God directs. He will direct such as properly seek his direction. Here they can best glorify God, and be more extensively useful in the salvation of their fellow-men. Let all follow the course of St. Paul, and then, like him, we shall be constrained to exclaim, "God forbid that I should glory, save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ.” How noble and elevated must be such a state! But are there not many in the Christian Church, who, in the ways already noticed, are walking by sight? Let us remember that Christ hath said, "Whosoever shall be ashamed of me, and of my words, of him shall the Son of man be ashamed, when he shall come in his glory, and in his Father's, and of the holy angels." The Jews were sharply reproved for seeking the commendation of the world, i. e., walking by sight. "How can ye believe, which receive honor one of another, and seek not the honor that cometh from God only?" Seeking the honor of the world is always incompatible with faith in Christ. "If any man love the world, (in any of its forms,) the love of the Father is not in him."
3. When governed by external circumstances in the performance of our Christian duties. We mean, by external circumstances, not such as would necessarily prevent our doing certain duties, but such as would seem to render it somewhat difficult, and to some almost impossible. That many are thus governed is a fact too obvious to require proof. How many often absent themselves from public worship, from the class and prayer meeting, simply because the weather presents unfavorable appearances; or they may have taken a slight cold; or religion is at a low ebb, and but few will attend. Perhaps family duties are neglected, because some of the family think unfavorably of family worship. Such say by their conduct, if not in word, that, were these circumstances reversed, or more favorable, they would attend to their neglected duties. But is God to be served in this manner? Are our houses of worship to be vacated, our class and prayer meetings neglected and forsaken, and nothing said on the subject of religion, merely because some outward circumstance is unfavorable? No! should be the response of every heart. Had the apostles, reformers, and martyrs pursued such a course, what would now have been the condition of the world? Their steady, bold, uncompromising course was calculated to convince the skeptic and unbeliever that there was a reality in religion. They could perform duties amid unfavorable appearances, and even in the face of persecution and martyrdom.
That outward circumstances, when unfavorable to the performance of religious duties, should deter us from the performance of them, we do not believe. They should rather be received as occasions to try our faith, and therefore with thankfulness. But the question is, Are we to serve God merely because it is convenient? VOL. IX.-April, 1838. 26