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his rebellious temper is subdued, and he is brought to delight in the law of the Lord? And what is Antinomianism but this very spirit which, previous to regeneration, constitutes the ruling temper of the heart? Let no unrenewed sinner then say that this subject has conveyed no admonition that is applicable to him; inasmuch as he is not only no Antinomian, but sees in the system nothing but absurdity. Take heed that you be not deceived. Antinomianism is an insinuating and slippery thing; and like a serpent in a bed of roses, it may lie hid in a system of doctrine in which you may discern nothing but the full features of an established orthodoxy. But be your system of doctrine what it may, certain it is that you have an Antinomian heart, if you have an unrenewed heart; and this will be enough to sustain against you the charge of having been an Antinomian in the most fearful sense, at the great day.Hear then as for your life, when I call upon you to yield up that rebellious spirit, and enter cordially into the service of your Lawgiver and Lord.
Finally : How much both of beauty and longs to Practical Christianity!
As a system of truth, it is characterized by perfect harmony in all its parts and all its bearings; and in its results, it secures all the great ends proposed by the sublimest economy
which Infinite Wisdom ever devised. See what Practical Christianity has already done for the world, and say whether she is not to be greeted as a good angel from the world above. Behold how many fountains of sorrow she has dried up, and how many fountains of joy she has unsealed! Behold her appropriating the world as her field, and going forth with a heart that beats to every form of human wo, and a hand open to dispense blessings of every description! And though
the work that she has set herself to accomplish is only begun, she has done enough to constitute a pledge that she will do the whole; that she will never rest from her labours till the world has been reclaimed from the dominion of the curse, and the last gem has been set in the Mediator's crown. Let Antinomianism go to sleep and dream that there is nothing for her to do, inasmuch as God is pledged to do it all; but let her know that she will ere long awake from her slumbers to a scene of ignominy and wailing. Meanwhile let Practical Christianity wax bolder and stronger in her efforts to renovate the world and glorify God; and as God's word is true, to her will belong the honour of having carried the news of salvation, and raised the Redeemer's standard, among all the nations.
I address many who, by profession, are Practical Christians. And what better can I do than exhort you to abound more and more in all works of faith and labours of love? First of all, keep your hearts with all diligence. Labour for your own sanctification not merely as a matter of personal comfort, nor yet merely because God requires it, but that you may the more effectually aid the sanctification of your fellow men. And then fulfil all the duties connected with your various relations with fidelity and alacrity. You are the head of a family—see to it that you look to the interests of the soul as well as the body; and endeavour, by God's grace, to become the instrument of salvation to those whom he has made dependant upon you. You are a member of the church-let your conversation be such as becometh the gospel of Christ; such as you may hope will impress others with the value of true Christianity, and even seal the lips of the infidel and the scoffer.God has put at your disposal a share-it may be a large
share-of the bounties of his providence--forget not that in doing this, he has only constituted you a steward, and that ere long he will require of you a steward's account. Distribute liberally and cheerfully to the necessities of your fellow creatures; use the world as not abusing it; and you will thereby convert the corruptible treasures of earth into the imperishable treasures of Heaven. God has given you influence in society—it may be he has elevated
you above most of your fellow menyou use that influence for his honour, and for their benefit. In short, realize habitually that God's claims are upon you to labour in his service to the extent of your ability. Keep your eye fixed upon the Son of God, not only as the Lord your Righteousness and the Lord your Strength, but as a perfect model of consistent and self-denied activity. Regard it a light thing, or rather account it a blessed privilege, to bear the cross in the cause of Him, who bled on the cross to save you from Hell. While you take heed that the materials which should constitute the superstructure are not placed as the foundation,—that Christ, and nothing but Christ, is the ground of your hope of final acceptance, let it be manifest to all that you live under a deep impression that you are not your own. Let your deportment be a standing refutation of the charge that the doctrines of grace are not according to godliness. “Let your light so shine before men that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in Heaven."
EXPERIMENTAL CHRISTIANITY CONTRASTED WITH FORMALISM, SENTIMENTALISM AND FANATICISM.
1 PETER II. 3.
If so be ye have tasted that the Lord is gracious.
IN CONNEXION WITH
REVELATION III. 1.
Thou hast a name that thou livest and art dead.
The design of the Apostle in the commencement of the chapter in which the former of these passages occurs, was to suppress the risings of every unhallowed temper among the Christians whom he was addressing, and to encourage them to the cultivation of all those virtues and graces which are enjoined by the gospel. He takes for granted that they had already been regenerated; that they were no strangers to the consolations of piety; that they had "tasted that the Lord is gracious;" and in view of the experience which they had actually had, calls upon them, "as new born babes,' to desire the sincere milk of the word that they may grow thereby."
The point to which I wish particularly to direct your attention is, that the great truth that “the Lord is gracious" had been a matter of experience with them; or, in the language of the Apostle, they had “tasted” it. And what was true of them in respect to this particular truth, is true of all real Christians in respect to the entire gospel of which this truth indeed is an epitome: it is not merely a matter of speculation with them, but a matter of experience also.
The latter passage makes part of the reproof which the Apostle John received in vision to be communicated to the angel of the church in Sardis. This church, it seems, had greatly declined in spirituality, insomuch that it had but little of the life of godliness remaining. Hence the Apostle declares, “I know thy works that thou hast a name that thou livest, and art dead.” As if he had said, “Ye are professedly a company of Chris. tians, dead to the world and alive to God; but ye are really, for the most part, alive to the world and dead to God: though there may be some among you who have a principle of true piety, yet the religion of much the greater part is no better than the body without the spirit.” And it had been well if the church of Sardis had been the only church to which this reproof could admit of application : but unhappily it describes the character of a large number of the professed followers of Christ in every age. They have a name that they live: they wear the Christian's badge, and often speak the Christian's language, and profess to be travelling toward the Christian's home; but, after all, they are dead: they have never felt the power of God's quickening grace, but are relying either on some false experience, or on something that is merely external, as evidence of their claim to the Christian character.