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But the question is, what is your present character? Grace is the evidence of grace." I know it is true, that he who is once a Christian is always a Christian; but it is also true, that he who is not now a Christian never was a Christian. Examine yourself, therefore, and see whether you be in the faith. The best evidence in the world that you arc, is that you grow in grace.
Now apply the principle. Have you, on the whole, since you first began to hope that you were united to the Lord Jesus Christ, been growing in grace? The question is plain and decisive.
Do you never hunger and thirst after righteousness? Do you never see the seasons when you are conscious of the most sensible desires after increasing conformity to God?
Do you never feel the burden of remaining corruption, and ardently desire to be deliver ed from its power? Do you never find your heart drawn vut in fervent supplication for sanctifying grace, as well as pardoning mercy?
Do you now desire to press forward, to renounce every thing, and to take God for all your portion? Do you strive to live nearer to Him, and are you resolved to persevere to the end, in a life of faith in Him who lored you and gave himself for you?
if you can ingenuously answer these questions in the affirmative, you are not destitute of evidence, that you have passed from death unto life. But if you know nothing of all
this, cast away your vain confidence. No man living in spiritual sloth, and making no new advances, ought to flatter himself that he is interested in the blessings of the great salvation. The man who is satisfied, because he thinks he is safe; who feels that he has religion enough, because he thinks he has enough to save him from hell; is as ignorant of the power, as he is a stranger to the consolation, of the gospel of Jesus Christ.
You have no right to call me, “Lord, Lord," saith the Savior, unless you do the things which I say. If ye keep my commandments, ye shall abide in my love, even as I have kept my Father's commandments, and abide in his love." You cannot claim the character, you cannot share the privileges of my people, without yielding a cordial, an habita ual and persevering obedience to the divine commandments.
After all that can be said of the nature of the Christian graces; after every effort to discriminate between true religion and false; the spirit of obedience to the Divine cominands is the grand test of the genuineness of our faith. By their fruits ye shall know them. The plain and decisive question,
which should be often pressed upon the reader's conscience, is this, Is the spirit of the gospel expressed in my habitual deportment?
There is a wide difference between that obedience which the gospel requires, and that which is practised by the most advanced Christian that ever lived.* That obedience which, through the grace of God, the believer is enabled to attain in the present life, and which may be viewed as conclusive evidence of Christian character is,
In the first place, cordial. It flows from the heart. "God be thanked," says the Apostle to the Romans, "that ye were the servants of sin, but ye have obeyed FROM THE HEART that form of doctrine which
We are aware of the efforts that have been made, and are still making in one form or another, both by the wise and the unwise, to pervert, if not to destroy, the moral law. Some tell us, that it is abated; others, that it is not binding since the apostasy, and others, that it is not binding till after the gospel is embraced. Sometimes, we are consoled with the notion, that "God does not require perfect obedie ence of His people in this fallen state!” At others, we are, quieted in our rebellion by the argument, that "the commandment is not grievous, because it is not the rule of justification!” The truth is, the law is founded in the character of God, and the relation which all intelligent creatures bear to Him. Hence, while this character and relation remain the same, the law will remain, under all possible circumstances, immutably and everlastingly binding. That obedience to the law which the gospel requires, is identified with the requisitions of the decalogue. Do we make void the law through faith? Yea we establish the law. Is the law so unholy, that it requires abatement? Is the commandment so unjust, that it could not righteously have been the rule of justification? Is God unrighteous — or is every precept of his law, under all the sanction of eternal death, of the same binding force now, that it was when first proclaimed from the sacred hill?
was delivered you." Evangelical obedience expresses not merely the form, but the power of godliness. Every thing short of that obedience which proceeds from the heart is disobedience. God neither requires, nor will accept of obedience which does not spontaneously flow from supreme love to Himself. The moral quality of all actions lies in the disposition of heart with which they are performed. Actions that are apparently good may flow from a very bad heart, and in the sight of God, are as corrupt as the heart from which they flow.
We read of those who followed our Lord with great zeal for a time; but who at length went back and walked no more with Him. And what was the reason? The love of God was not in them. Their hearts, like that of the young man in the gospel, did not enter into the spirit of the duties which they practised. They did not love the duties themselves, nor desire to glorify God in them. Men often practise the duties of piety from some mercenary end. False motives entwine themselves into all the external duties of the hypocrite. Not so the obedience of the true Christian. That is deep and thorough. It proceeds from the inmost soul. There is a purity of design in all. “This is the love of God, that we keep His commandments; and His commandments ARE NOT GRIEVOUS." It is no task to the Christian to obey the commandments of God. It is his highest pleasure. He de
lights in being devoted to the service of a being whom he supremely loves. “It is his meat and his drink to do the will of Him that sent bim, and to finish His work.” It is with heartfelt pleasure, that he consecrates his time, his talents, and his privileges, to the delightful work of glorifying God. The glory of God is the great end of his being. The honor of His name is a motive, paramount to every other principle; the precepts of His law a guide, paramount to every other rule of duty. The love of Christ constrains him. When he contemplates his duty; he feels the spirit of boly enterprise; when he looks at the work which God has given bim to do; he is animated with pious zeal, and is constrained to exclaim, "I delight to do thy will, o God, yea, thy law is WITHIN MY HEART!" He, therefore, who obeys God at all, obeys Himn from the heart. He obeys internally, as well as externally His is cordial obedience.
But the obedience of God's people, is also habitual. There are some passages of scripture which at first view appear to inculcate the idea, that the obedience of the new man is universal. Caleb and Joshua are said to bave WHOLLY followed the Lord. Job is called a PERFECT and upright man.
Zecharias and Anna are said to have been "righteous before God, walking in All the commandments and ordinances of the Lord BLAMELESS." Whosoever abideth in Christ," saith John, "SINNETI NOT. And