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hope; that “ we are” nevertheless, " saved by grace, through faith;” and that “he who believeth shall be “ saved, and he who believeth not shall be damned."
My brethren, let us learn from this important subject, not to oppose one part of scripture to another, as many fatally do. That apparent love, which does not spring from faith, and is not accompar.ied by repentance, humility, hope, patience, and other holy dispositions, is a counterfeit: and so is the faith that does not work by love, and the hope which does not purisy the heart. That love to our neighbour, which is not the result of love to Christ, is not the love which the sacred writers extol; nor can we love the bodies of men aright, if we neglect their souls; or regard their souls, if we do not relieve their temporal wants as we have opportunity and ability.
While we hold fast the principles of the gospel, let us beware of barren notions, spiritual pride, and a vain glorious use of our endowinents. These may be splendid in the judgment of man: but they are nothing, and worse than nothing, in the sight of God. A bitter, boasting, and censorious zeal characterizes “the wis“ dom, that is from beneath; and is earthly, sensual, “ and devilish:” not that " which is from above, and
is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, easy to be in“ treated, full of mercy and good fruits, without par"tiality, and without hypocrisy."*_Let us then, my brethren, follow after love: but let us see to it that it be the genuine affection, the nature and effects of which
Janies iii. 13-18.
the scripture describes, and which connects the various parts of Christianity into one consistent whole.
We may likewise observe, that the least degree of those holy tempers, which are common to believers is inconceivably more valuable to the possessor, than those shining gifts and accomplishments, by which some are distinguished, but which may exist without living faith. Such were the gifts of tongues and prophecy, miraculous powers, or apostolical authority, which might exist apart from saving grace: and such are learning, genius, eloquence, and other admired endowments, which men covet, envy, or ostentatiously display.
But next to the possession of that holiness which inseparably accompanies salvation; we should desire and seek such gifts, as may qualify us for the duties of our several stations; and we should pray earnestly, that “ Our love may abound yet more and more in
knowledge and in all judgment; that we may approve
things that are excellent; that we may be sincere “ and without offence, till the day of Christ: being “ filled with the fruits of righteousness, which are by “ Jesus Christ to the praise and glory of God."*
Phil. i. 9-il.
PHILIPPIANS I, 27.
Only let your conversation be as it becometh the gos.
pel of Christ.
St. Paul wrote his spistle, as well as some others, from his prison at Rome: and it is manifest that the Lord was with him, as he had been with Joseph in similar circumstances; which rendered his confinement unspeakably more pleasant, than a splendid palace with a guilty conscience and ungovernable passions. Instead of dejection, murmurs, or resentment, we find the apostle uniformly employing the language of cheerfulness, confidence, and exultation. He de. clares that “ to him to live was Christ, and to “ die
gain." All his credit, interest, business, and pleasure in life, consisted in communion with Christ, and carnest endeavours to glorify him and promote his cause: and he was sure, that death, in whatever form it should arrest him, would prove his richest advantage.-- What a blessed religion is this, which can turn the king of terrors into a kind friend, and the
loss of all terrestrial things into the most valuable of acquisitions! What, my brethren, can wealth, reputation, authority, genius, or philosophy propose, which is comparable to this? Why then should
hesitate to sell all, and purchase the Pearl of great price?
But though the apostle had a longing“ desire to “ depart and be with Christ, as far better;" yet he was willing to continue on earth, “ for the furtherance and " joy of faith” of his beloved people.—As if a pardoned rebel should voluntarily submit to the inconveniences and sufferings of a dungeon, in order to recommend the clemency of his prince to other criminals; or be helpful to those, who having likewise received mercy, were for some important purposes retained a while longer in confinement.
Hence he took occasion to exhort the Philippians in the following words, “ Only let your conversation be, “ as it becometh the gospel of Christ; that whether I “ come and see you, or else be absent, I may hear of
your affairs, that ye stand fast in one spirit, with one " mind, striving together for the faith of the gospel; “ and in nothing terrified by your adversaries.”— From the part of this exhortation, contained in our text, I shall endeavour,
I. To give a compendious view of the gospel of Christ.
II. To shew, that this gospel, when rightly understood and truly believed, will produce a correspondent conduct and conversation.
III. To mention some leading particulars in which “a conversation becoming the gospel"? more especially consists.
IV. To make some remarks on the emphati. cal word “ Only." I. I would attempt to give a compendious view of the gospel of Christ.
We know that the word rendered gospel signifies glad tidings; and a preacher of the gospel is a messen. ger or herald, bringing and publishing good news. " How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of “ them that preach the gospel of peace, and bring glad “ tidings of good things?"*
The Ephesians, having formed the design of build. ing the celebrated temple of Diana, were at a loss where to procure a sufficient quantity of the finest marble, to accomplish the plan: and it is recorded, that a certain person, in this emergency, found a quarry at no great distance, exactly suited to the purpose. Running therefore without delay to inform the citizens of this fortunate event, he was saluted, and af. terwards called, Evangelus or The bringer of good tidings; a name of exactly the same import, with that rendered a preacher of the gospel, or an evangelist. But though his tidings were infinitely less important and joyful than our's; it may be questioned, whether any whole city ever thus gladly welcomed the message of salvation: and we know that in general it meets with a very different reception.
Good tidings often derive a great part of their value, from their suitableness to the case of those who hear them. The promulgation of good laws and the
I sai. lii, 7. Rom. X. 15.