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perfections; and as they grow in the knowledge of God, so they grow in divine love, and press forward after clearer discoveries of his glory. It was in this way that the apostle Paul was weaned from the world, and “ in a strait betwixt two, having a desire to depart, and to be with Christ;" where he could see more of his glory, love him better, and enjoy him without interruption.
The Christian's hope leads him to desire deliverance from sin.
The Christian hates sin because it is against God, a violation of his holy law. His deepest abhorrence of sin is when he has the clearest discovery of the divine glory. Hence said Job, “ I have heard of thee by the hearing of the ear : but now mine eye seeth thee. Wherefore I abhor myself and repent in dust and ashes.” The more a Christian loves God, the more he will hate sin, and the more will he desire deliverance from it as the dea
lliest evil. Under a load of sin and death, he at times, groans being burdened, and ardently longs to be freed from it. Full well he knows the bitterness of transgression. With what fervor does David pray to be delivered from sin ; and with what abhorrence does he speak of it. 66 Wash me throughly from mine iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin. For I acknowledge my transgressions; and my sin is ever before me. Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean : wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow." But you will ask, do not professing Christians sin ? those who give the most evidence of religion? Yes. And they are willing to confess before God and the world that they sin. And they are prepared in their hearts to justify that law which threatens sin with everlasting destruction. They can say, we will love God, though he execute this law upon us. At times they are overwhelmed in a view of their sins, committed in violation of the holy commands of God.
The Christian's hope leads him to increasing discoreries of the riches of divine grace, in the plan of salvation.
The work of redemption is a subject into which the angels desire to look, and on which they meditate with increasing astonishment. The more a Christian sees his own wretchedness, the more will he adore the rich grace of God displayed in the gospel. God, in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself, and making sinners the partakers of his own moral likeness and blessedness, is a subject on which he loves to meditate. And when he has a clear view of it, as he sometimes has, he is ready to say with the apostle, “O the depth of the riches, both of the wisdom and knowledge of God!" The more he contemplates the work of redemption, the more he loves to contemplate it, and the more he is filled with praise and astonishment. It is a subject that has a powerful effect on his mind, and operates as a strong dissuasive from sin.
Through the influence of the hope that is in him, the Christian is led highly to esteem the word of God. He looks upon the Scriptures as containing the treasures of wisdom and knowledge. Here he comes to the most intimate acquaintance with the perfections and will of God. Here he finds his own character and wretched condition as a sinner clearly pointed out. Here he finds the way of deliverance from sin and hell, and the perfect rules of life. The Scriptures are, to the Christian, full of instruction. They are a light shining in a dark place. There is no treasure he so highly values. He listens to the Bible as the voice of God. It appears a reality. Considered as a history of God and his Providence, and as containing rules of duty to the universe, nothing can equal its worth. And he is ready to say with the Psalmist,
Thy word is very pure; therefore thy servant loveth it.”
The system of truth contained in the Scriptures, is as really nourishing to his soul, as food is to his body. He loves the truth for the same reason that he loves God. When he feels as he ought, and as he does sometimes feel, the truth affords him a sweet satisfaction. He loves to realize that there is a God of infinite perfection. And from the complacency which he feels in him, he is led to rejoice that he has formed a plan of operation, embracing all things from everlasting to everlasting. He is assured that God knows what is best to be done, and that under his government the greatest ultimate good will be secured. And it is from his love to God, he rejoices that he has created, preserves, and governs all things with a view to his own glory. The moment a person sees the moral
glory of God, he finds reason to rejoice in the doctrine of divine decrees and government, in its utmost extent. The supremacy of God has always been a subject of delightful contemplation to Christians. It is the foundation of their peace, and absolutely essential to it. And the clearer discoveries they have of the universal government of God, the higher their joy rises. Hence the Psalmist, when favored with a special view of God as the sovereign disposer of all things, breaks out in the following strain, “The Lord reigneth ; let the earth rejoice.”
The election of some of mankind to holiness and eter. nal life, is a source of joy to Christians. They are not pleased with this truth principally on account of a personal interest in it. It is as precious with respect to others as to themselves. They rejoice that it is consistent for God to save some, that he has revealed this purpose ; and they feel willing that he should save just whom he pleases. They are satisfied with the purpose of
repro bation, from the consideration that it is not for the glory of God to save all. Their submission to this doctrine does not arise from a supposed personal exemption. They would be satisfied with it, had they not the least hope of pardon. The doctrine appears just as good with application to themselves, as to others. There is nothing selfish in the foundation of a Christian's hope. It rests on the consciousness that he does love God, hate sin, and delight in the way of salvation, as revealed in the gospel. The love which Christians feel to the truths of God's word, is an expression of their love to him. Hence the more they see of the truth, the more they see him, and are filled with joy. It is only through the truth that they know God, and are conformed to his moral image. Hence Christ, in one of his last interviews with his disciples, made this affectionate prayer to the Father for them, “Sanctify them through thy truth, thy word is truth." It is by believing, loving, and practising the truth, that Christians give evidence of the sanctifying operations of the Holy Ghost upon their hearts.
A Christian's hope will make him prayerful.
The more a Christian sees God, the more he feels and loves to feel his entire dependence upon him : and the more he becomes acquainted with his own heart, the more he sees his need of help from God, to overcome the temptations, and escape the dangers to which he is exposed. This help he obtains by prayer. God usually makes his children see their need of help, and disposes them to ask it, before he grants them favor. It is impossible for a Christian to maintain spiritual life without prayer. He who gives the world evidence that he lives without prayer, tells them that he has no religion. A prayerless Christian is an absurdity. Just in proportion as a person hates sin, will he feel desirous that God, on whom he feels wholly dependent, would deliver him from it. Christians at times feel inexpressibly strong desires to promote the spiritual good of their fellow creatures. And how do they hope to benefit them? They know that they cannot awaken them to one serious thought, to one holy resolution ; but they realize that God is able to turn their hearts; and they look to him for help. As Christians grow in grace, and approach the end of their journey, they grow in prayerfulness. It is by communion with God in humble persevering desires of the soul, that they testify to those around them the purifying influence of their hope.
The hope of a real Christian will lead to a due observance of all instituted duties; to a life devoted to God.
It was not without design that Christ instituted a church, and enjoined it on all who possess his spirit, to make a public profession of their love to him, by joining themselves to his church, and partaking of the holy supper which he appointed, in commemoration of his death. The positive duties which the gospel enjoins, are as really binding on men as moral duties; and no Christian can feel justified in the neglect of them. Said Christ, “ If ye love me, keep my commandments.” There was a beautiful representation given of Christian character, when it was said of Zachariah and Elizabeth, “ They were both righteous before God, walking in all the commandments and ordinances of the Lord blameless." None, who hope they are Christians, have the least excuse for neglecting instituted duties. And those who love God, will desire no excuse. It will be a privilege, as well as duty, to walk in all the statutes of the Lord. They have chosen the law of God to be the guide of their
lives. Prompted by supreme love to him whom they have chosen for their portion, they are ready to make any personal sacrifice, that his honor, or the prosperity of his cause may require. Such are the fruits of a Christian's hope.
From the preceding remarks we are led to conclude, that the number of real Christians is comparatively small.
Every real Christian has been created in Christ Jesus unto good works; and these are his evidence of having passed from death unto life. In every age of the church there have been some of this description. In the early days of the world, we find Enoch, Noah, Abraham, Daniel, the three Jews, with many others, whose hope rested on solid evidence. And in no period has God left himself without witnesses of the power
of his in every age, the great mass of mankind have manifested a different spirit. They have not sought the glory of their Creator, submitted to his will, regarded his institutions, believed the truths of his word, or devoted themselves to his cause : but they have possessed a spirit of selfishness, which has led them to oppose his authority, to hate his character, to trample on his commands, to neglect his cause, and even to combine their efforts to root out the remembrance of his name from the earth. If we are to consider those only as Christians, who appear to be actuated by a single eye to the glory of God, to hate sin, to love the Lord Jesus Christ, his institutions, his doctrines, and to devote themselves to the promotion of his cause, then the number of real Christians must be
From this subject, it also appears exceedingly important that mankind should understand the peculiar doctrines of the gospel.
It deeply concerns every candidate for immortality to know what spirit he is of; whether he is interested in the favor of God, or under the curse of his law. God commands men to determine this important question. But how can they determine this without a knowledge of the truth ? How can they know what their feelings towards God are, unless they understand his true character? If mankind are under the most solemn obligation