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Lord Jesus Christ? This question will be decided by evidence. And the evidence which the righteous Judge will view as con. clusive, will be a life of practical godliness. «The Father, without respect of persons, will judge ACCORDING TO EVERY MAN'S
When John, in the vision of Patmos, “saw the sea give up the dead which were in it, and Death and Hell give up the dead which were in them; they were judged every man ACCORDING TO HIS WORK."
In looking forward to the process of that day, the reader may anticipate this grand rule of trial. If he leads a life of evangelical obedience, though that obedience is not the ground of his acceptance, it is evidence that he is accepted. And this is evidence that comes without looking for it. A life of humble, holy, Christ-like obedience, carries! hope, and faith, and comfort, along with it. It is conclusive evidence that the love of Christ constraineth you, and is not long maintained without filling the heart with light and joy.
Come then, and try your heart by the same rule whereby God tries it. God has given, or he will give you, a fair opportunity of proving your religion, by bringing it into action. He proved Abraham, and the trial issued in the clearest evidence of Abraham's religion. He proved the young mani in the gospel, and the result of the trial was, that he loved the world more than God. What is the issue of the trial in your caso? Frames, and experiences, and professions,
and hopes, are nothing without lives of practical godliness. “He that hath my commandments and keepeth them, he it is that loveth me.'
The plain question which was stated at the beginning of this essay, is a very important one, Does your religion express itself in your habitual deportment?- in prosperity, in adversity, in the family, in the world, among friends and foes? Remember, he that hath the hope of the gospel, purifieth himself even as Christ is pure. Does your love to God prompt you to a devout attendance upon all His institutions? Does it animate you with increasing attachment to His word and His service? Does your love to man lead you to do justice, and love mercy, to live in peace with all men? Does, it make you the better husband, or the better wife; the better parent, or the better child; the better master, or the better servant; the better magistrate, or the better subject; the better friend, or the better citizen?
The religion of Jesus Christ is not a sys. tem of empty speculations, designed to have no practical influence. It is not the offspring of wild enthusiasm, that exhausts all its force in feeling, and leaves none for action. "A good man, out of the good treasure of the heart, necessarily bringeth forth good things.” Experience without practice is nothing; and practice without experience is no more. Experimental religion consists in the reality of the Christian graces,
act in some measuina 178 PRACTICAL OBEDIENCE. and in their due effect upon the life and conversation. If you are an experienced Christian, you feel the power of religion in your heart, and exhibit it in your life. The life of Jesus is made manifest in some good degree in your mortal flesh. You feel and
as Christ felt and act. ed You discover His spirit; you imitate His example; you exhibit a firm and bold attachment to His cause.
But, reader, with all thy short-comings, with all thy gross violations of duty, is such the habitual course of thy life? Is thine a life of devotion, of meekness, and humility; of supreme attachment to heavenly and divine things; of self-denial; and of universal benevolence? Try your heart by your practice, and your practice by your heart. If, after candid examination, you find reason to hope that you are one of God's dear cbildren-washed with the blood, sanctified by the Spirit, clothed with the righteousness of the Well Beloved; cherish that hope as the gift of heaven. Dismiss your fears; bind yourself to be the Lord's in an everlasting covenant; think less of yourself, and more and more of the name, the cross, the glory of your Redeemer. Henceforth let your light SHINE. "Seek ye first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all things shall be added unto you. Or, in other words, do you serve God, and God will take care of you. Submit to His will; trust in His grace, and resign yourself into His hands, with the assurance that The Lord is WELL PLEASED with hose who HOPE IN HIS MERCY.
LET the reader review the preceding pages in the fear of God. The subject is of eternal moment. A mistake here, is a mistake for eternity. Under a deep sense of his need of the searching influences of the Divine Spirit, let him, as he reflects upon what he has read, adopt the language of the Psalmist, 'Search me, o God, and know my heart; try me, and know my thoughts; and see if there be any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting."
He that is not with me, saith the Savior, is against me. There is no principle within the whole compass of morals, that admits of more strict demonstration than this, that there can be but two moral characters that are essentially different. There must be necessarily in every intelligent being, a conformity to the will of God, or the want of it. It is as impossible that a man should be neither right nor wrong, as it is that a portion of matter, at any given period, should be neither at rest nor in motion.
It is absurd to suppose, that he is neither a saint nor a sinner;. neither penitent nor impenitent; neither a believer nor an unbeliever. So long as men possess any moral character, they must view themselves, and be viewed by others, either for God or against Him. In the great contest which enlists the feelings and the power of three worlds, it is impossible that there should be a neutral. One side or
the other will claim every intelligent being in heaven, on earth, and in hell. And it is right they should do so. If the line should now bedrawn by the invisible hand of the Great Searcher of liearts; on the one side would be the friends of God, on the other, His enemies..
Suffer me, then, beloved reader, before I take leave of you, plainly, solemnly, and af. fectionately, to ask the question, ON WHICH SIDE. DO YOU STAND? If you possess nothing more than mere visible morality; nothing more than the naked form of religion; nothing more than a speculative knowledge of the system of revealed truth; nothing more than simple conviction for sin; nothing more than a vain confidence of your own good estate, connected with some apparent zeal for the cause of God, and a few transient and spurious affections: how can you be one of the children of the Everlasting Father? If you are a stranger to love to God; to repentance for sin; to faith in the Lord Jesus Christ; to evangelical humility; to genuine self-denial--how can you cherish the hope that you are a Christian? If you know nothing of the spirit of prayer; nothing of the love of the brotherhood; nothing of mortifying the spirit of the world; nothing of growth in grace; of cordial, habitual, persevering obedience to the divine commands how can it be, that you have been brought nigh by the blood of Christ? If these things are so, thou hast neither part nor lot in this matter, for thy heart is not right in the sight of God.