« PreviousContinue »
cultivation of what is estimable and amiable in character, urges to conformity to our blessed Lord. This was the great design of God in his choice of men to salvation: “For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son." This was one great design of our Saviour's incarnation and sufferings: “Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example to follow his steps.”—Nor is this all ; the duty is expressly enjoined, not only in the text, but in other
passages of Scripture: “ Follow me," was the ordinary language in which Christ himself invited men to become his disciples. “ If any man,” says he, “would become my disciple, let him deny himself, take
his cross, and follow me.” “Forasmuch, then,” says the Apostle Peter, “as Christ hath suffer. ed for us in the flesh, arm yourselves likewise with the same mind, that ye no longer should live the rest of
your time in the flesh, to the lusts of men, but to the will of God.”
2d, We ought to let the mind be in us which also was in Christ Jesus, for this mode of conduct is truly honourable. It is accounted honourable among men, to maintain the same sentiments as the wise and learn, ed, and to be distinguished by the same manners as the great and noble. To have the same mind in us as was in Christ, must then be honourable. He is the greatest, the wisest, and the best of beings : He is, as Mediator, the Governor of the universe ; and, as to his pre-existent nature, he is “ God over all, blessed for ever.” As to his divinity, He is the only wise God; and, as Mediator, “ in him are hid all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.” He is the “ Wonderful Counsellor;" all that is great, glorious, and lovely. To resemble the great ones of the earth, is often a real disgrace; but to be like Christ, is truly great and how nourable : for this renders us great in the sight of
the Lord,” and secures a large measure of “ the honour that cometh down from above."
3d, We ought to let the mind be in us which also was in Christ Jesus, for this mode of conduct is productive of the truest pleasure. Man is so constituted, as that a very pure and exquisite pleasure is the result of the knowledge and belief of what is true, and the love and practice of what is right. Indeed, he is so constituted, that he can have no real rational enjoyment without these. Truly light is sweet, and a pleasant thing it is for the eyes to behold the sun.” Still more sweet is the perception of truth to the regenerated mind; still more pleasant is the love of excellence to the regenerated heart : “ In the keeping of God's commandments there is great reward. Wisdom's ways are pleasantness, and all her paths are peace."
There is a superadded pleasure arising from the circumstance, that in this knowledge and belief of the truth, and in this holy frame of temper, we are conformed to Christ. In walking along a road, in itself agreeable, and leading to scenes still more delightful, our pleasure is increased by the recollection, that our best friend trod this path before us—that he opened it up for our advantage—that he intended us to walk in it-and that, by pursuing it, we shall in due time reach our Father's house, where that best Friend is waiting for us, to welcome us to the enjoyment of the happiness he has prepared for us.
In yielding up our understandings to the obedience of faith, we obtain rest from the perplexities of doubt; and, in surrendering all our active powers to the transforming influence of the Divine Spirit, we obtain rest from the turbulence of malignant and impure passion: “ The peace of God, which passeth all understanding, keeps the mind and heart through Christ Jesus."
“Peace," says Jesus to all who have the same mind in them, “ Peace I leave you ; my peace I give unto you; not as the world giveth, give I unto you.” “To the wicked,” who are strangers to this mind, “there is no peace.” And, in the experience of the saint, it will be found, that the larger measure he possesses of the mind of Christ, he is kept in the more perfect peace and tranquil happiness.
4th, We ought to let the mind be in us which also was in Christ Jesus, for it is very advantageous. Conformity to Christ is at once absolutely necessary and completely sufficient, to secure for a man all the advantages which flow from an assurance of his being interested in the divine favour: “ If any man has not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his.” If any man has the Spirit of Christ, he is one of his. Who does not perceive, how numerous and important are the advantages which result from a well-grounded conviction that we are the objects of the unchanging love of God? Now, all these belong to the man in whom the mind of Christ is, and belong to him just in proportion as he resembles his Lord.
Conformity to Christ is advantageous, for it fits us for heaven. Without this mind being in us, heaven would be no heaven to us. Without this mind we cannot be admitted into the celestial mansions. With it, we cannot be excluded from them: “ Without holiness no man can see the Lord ;” and with holiness, no man can be deprived of the beatific vision.
How advantageous, even in reference to the concerns of the present state, is conformity to the Sam viour !-How happy would individuals, families, churches, nations be, if the mind which was in Christ were but universally prevalent! If the same just sentiments about God and man, time and eternity, were universally entertained and the same patient, self-denying, forbearing, generous, public-spirited temper, universally cherished, earth would be transformed into a resemblance of heaven-paradise would be restored-wars and dissensions would cease for ever-security and peace would establish their tran. quil and permanent dominion-man, the brother, would live the friend of man—God would be glorified, and mankind would be happy.
Thus, Christians, have you heard your duty explained, and the motives which urge you to its performance briefly illustrated. What remains, then, but that, in humble dependence on that blessed Spirit, who irradiated with perfect light the understanding of Jesus, and adorned his soul with all the beauties of holiness, and whose enlightening and purifying influences are freely promised to all who ask them, you go forward in a constant endeavour to obtain a more and more accurate resemblance in your mode of thinking and feel. ing to that of your Saviour ; that thus you may exhibit a fair and still improving copy of the graces and vir. tues which rendered his life and his death so illustrious. Thus will you honour your
Lord-make sure your call. ing and election and acquire a fitness for mingling in the closest fellowship, through eternity, with Christ Jesus, and his divine Father and Spirit, to whom be ascribed infinite and undivided honour. Amen.
THE CHRISTIAN EXHORTED AND ENCOURAGED TO
2 IRONICLES XV. 7. Be strong, therefore, and let not your hands be weak :
for your work shall be rewarded.
Or those good and great men who, in their respective periods, were“ the lights of the world”-who, de voting the best gifts of heaven to the best purposes, contributed by their talents and virtues to the instruction, moral improveinent, and happiness of their fellow men, it is but a small proportion whose names, and a still smaller whose works, have survived their own age, and come down to excite the admiration and claim the gratitude of succeeding generations. This fact is easily accounted for. These men have, for the most part, been heedless of human applause. The object of their ambition was something infinitely higher than mortal fame" the honour which cometh down from above," the approbation of their God. Content with being good and useful, they left it to others to run the race and wear the laurels of earthly renown. On the other hand, an ignorant and unthink