« PreviousContinue »
this time, a person was entreating you to look at a beautiful diamond statue, which you refused to do; until, wearied with useless efforts to make your image appear more beautiful, you turn and look at the statue. Immediately you see your idol in all its native deformity; you cast it aside and begin to admire and extol the statue. This idol represents self, and every unrenewed person admires and loves it supremely. When his conscience is awakened to see something of his sinfulness, he first endeavors to make himself better, and it is long before he finds that he cannot change his own heart. When he finds, that, notwithstanding all his endeavors, his heart seems to grow worse and worse, he prays to God for help. It is not from love God, or because God has commanded it, that he prays; but because he is unwilling to see himself so sinful; so that his prayers arise merely from pride and selfishness. But if he will only turn and look to Christ, he sees his sins in a new light, and no longer loves himself supremely; all his affections are transferred to Christ. He then prays to be made better, not to gratify his pride, but because he sees something of the beauty of holiness and and longs to resemble his divine Master."
"Suppose one man owes another a thousand pounds, but he is unable to pay the debt and denies that he owes it. His creditor, being a very compassionate man, says to him, "I do not wish for your money, and as soon as you will own the debt to be a just one, I will release you from your obligation; but I cannot do it before, for that would be in fact acknowledging that I am in the wrong." The poor man refuses to confess that he owes the money, and is, in consequence, sent to prison. After remaining there for a time, he sends his creditor word, that he will allow he owes him a hundred pounds. But that will not do. After another interval, he says he will allow that he owes two hundred pounds; and thus he keeps gradually giving up a little more, until he gets to nine hundred; there he stops a long while. At length, finding there is no other way of escape, he acknowledges the whole debt, and is released. Still it would be free, unmerited kindness in the creditor, and the poor man would have no right to say, "I partly deserved it, because I owned the
debt;" for he ought to have done that, whether he was liberated or not. Just in this manner we have treated God. When he comes and charges us with having broken his law, we deny it; we will allow, perhaps, that we deserve a slight punishment, but not all which God has threatened. But if we are ever to be saved, God comes and, as it were, shuts us up in prison; that is, he awakens our consciences, and sends his Spirit to convince us of sin. Thus we, every day, see more and more of the desperate wickedness of our hearts, until we are ready to allow that we have deserved eternal condemnation. soon as we acknowledge this, God is ready to pardon us; but it is evident that we do not deserve pardon, that he is not under the least obligation to bestow it, and that all who are saved, are saved through free unmerited grace."
"One excuse which awakened sinners are accustomed to allege in their own defence, is, that they wish to love God, and to have new hearts, but cannot. They do indeed wish to be saved, but they are not willing to be saved in God's way; that is, they are not willing to accept salvation as a free gift. They would do any thing to buy it, but will not take it without money and without price. Suppose that you were very sick, and were told by the physician, that there was but one medicine in the world, which could save your life, and that this was exceedingly precious. You were also told, that there was but one person in the world who had any of this in his possession; and that, although he was willing to give it to those who asked, he would, on no account, sell any. Suppose this person to be one, whom you had treated with great neglect and contempt, injured in every possible way. How exceedingly unwilling would you be to send to him for the medicine, as a gift: You would rather purchase it at the expense of your whole fortune. You would defer sending as long as possible, and when you found that you were daily growing worse, and nothing else could save you, you would be obliged, however reluctantly, to send and ask for some. Just so unwilling are sinners to apply to God for salvation, as a free gift; and they will not do it, until they find themselves perishing, and that there is no other hope for them."
"The young convert, in judging of the reality of his conversion, generally lays much stress upon having a great deal of joy; and regards that as a very decisive proof that he is a disciple of Christ. But this is one of the most fallacious proofs, and no dependance ought to be placed on it. It is not desirable, at first. to have full assurance of our salvation, for our love is then weak; and some degree of fear is likewise necessary to keep us near to Christ."
"Suppose a child accidentally falls into a pit, and when some person comes to help him out, instead of thankfully accepting the offer, he says, "No; I will not have you to help me out, I wish some one else to assist me. He is told by his father, that he shall not be assisted by any other person. Yet he still prefers remaining in the pit to accepting that person's offer; does it not indicate strong aversion to him? Yet it is precisely thus that the sinner treats Christ. He is exposed to danger, from which none but Christ can deliver him. Yet, rather than accept his assistance, he tries every other method, again and again; and when he finds all his efforts unsuccessful, he practically says, 'I had rather perish, than be saved by Christ.' How justly might the Saviour take him at his word, and leave him to perish!"
"The manner in which people obtain a false hope, is generally this: they first believe that God is reconciled to them, and then are reconciled to him on that account; but if they thought that God was still displeased with, and determined to punish them, they would find their enmity to him revive. On the contrary, the Christian is reconciled because he sees the holiness of the law which he has broken, and God's justice in punishing him; he takes part with God against himself, cordially submits to him, and this when he expects condemnation. He is reconciled, because he is pleased with the character of God; the false convert, because he hopes God is pleased with him."
"It is morally impossible for God to pardon sinners without repentance. The moment he should do it, he would cease to be a perfectly holy being; of course, all the songs of heaven would stop, and all the happiness of
the universe be dried up. In his conduct he is governed by a regard to the good of the whole. If a sovereign, out of false pity to criminals, should pardon them indiscriminate ly; he would thus destroy the happiness of all his faithful subjects, and introduce misery and confusion into his kingdom. But infinitely worse consequences would ensue, if God should neglect to punish those who transgress his law. His vast dominions would become one universal scene of anarchy and confusion; happiness would be banished forever; and misery, in its most aggravated forms, would prevail throughout the universe. Yet all this the sinner would think ought to be endured, rather than that he should be obliged to repent of his sins."
"Young converts generally suppose that it is their strong faith, which enables them to go to God, and ask to be forgiven, without much fear or hesitation; but faith has less to do with it, than they imagine. It is because they see little of their own sinfulness and God's hatred of sin. If they had clear views of these truths, they would find their weak faith very insufficient to induce them to go to Christ. Suppose a man, who had never seen fire, and who knew its effects only by report, should be told that, at a certain distant period, he would be obliged to pass through a fire. He is told, also, that there is but one kind of garment that can protect him from its influence. A person gives him this robe, and although it appears to him very thin and flimsy, yet he feels very well satisfied with it before he has seen the fire. But when the destined time arrives, and he sees the fire blazing out, and consuming every thing within its reach, his confidence fails. At first, a small degree of faith enables the Christian to go to God; but as he advances in the knowledge of his own heart, and God's hatred of sin, his faith must also be increased to enable him to approach his Heavenly Father with confidence."
"The young convert may be compared to a child, whom his father is leading over a rugged and uneven path. After proceeding for some time, without much difficulty, he forgets that it has been owing to his father's assistancebegins to think that he may now venture to walk by him
self, and, consequently, falls. Humbled and dejected, he then feels his own weakness, and clings to his father for support. Soon, however, elated with his progress, he again forgets the kind hand which sustains him, fancies he needs no more assistance, and again falls. This process is repeated a thousand times, in the course of the Christian's experience, till he learns, at length, that his own strength is perfect weakness, and that he must depend solely on his Heavenly Father."
"To assist you in estimating the criminality of sin, suppose that you had committed the first sin-that, before you were born, such a thing had never been heard or thought of; but that all beings had united in loving and serving God, till, all at once, you started up, and began to disobey his commands. What a commotion would be excited! Instantly the news would spread through heaven and earth, with inconceivable rapidity, and all ranks and orders of beings would join in exclaiming, " It cannot be! Where is the wretch, who would dare to disobey Jehovah?" Suppose, then, that you were obliged to come forward, and stand in the view of the assembled universe, of myriads of sinless beings, who all regarded you with feelings of astonishment, horror, detestation, too strong for utterance. How inexpressibly dreadful would sin appear in this point of view! And yet it is, in reality, just as dreadful and as criminal, to sin now, as if no sin had ever been committed by another."
"The difference between true and false religion may be thus illustrated. Suppose a king visits two families of his subjects; the members of one think it great condescension in him to visit them; they show him every possible mark of affection and respect, and they are filled with regret and unhappiness at his departure. The other family have no real love for him; and, though self interest prompts them to show him every external mark of respect, yet it is constrained, and they are glad when he departs. Now if this king could read the heart, and saw that their services were insincere, he could not, of course, be pleased; and the more assiduous they were in their attentions, if prompted wholly by self-interest, the more would he be