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The sin, which most easily besets us all, brethren, is the great, the crying, the condemning sin of unbelief. We do not place constantly before our eyes these eternal realities.
The sense and conviction of them is not wrought, as it ought to be, into the texture of our minds. We do not sufficiently rècollect, that we stand between two worlds, and must disengage ourselves from the one, if we would realize the other. The fear of the world, the love of the world, the habits of the world all hang, like weights, about us, and hinder us from looking up to our heavenly inheritance. But, brethren, it is not so with those, who wait upon the lord faithfully and patiently. They,' (says Isaiah) shall ' renew their strength. They shall mount up 'with wings, as eagles. They shall run, and 'not be weary; and they shall walk, and 'not faint.'
The text describes fully the course of a christian. He has a race to run; and he is taught to run in it with patience (that is with steady perseverance) to the end. For this purpose he must first lay aside every weight,
304 On the witnesses to the truth of the gospel.
and the sin of unbelief, which doth so easily beset him, lest it retard his progress, and withhold him from the mark in view. But, since the removal of every impediment would not give him activity in the race, or courage for the contest, he is exhorted next to look unto Jesus, the author and finisher of his faith, who stands at the end of the course, ready to receive the victor, and holding in his hand the crown of righteousness, which he has promised to bestow on believers. It is in keeping this end of the course in view, and looking unto him, who presides over it, that the strength of a true christian essentially consists; for there proceeds virtue from that saviour of sinners, which can change indolence into activity, convert weakness into strength, and raise death to life. When the christian turns aside from that glorious object to the flowers, which invite him on one side, or to the terrors, which appal him on the other, he falls; his besetting sin returns upon him; and it is only, while he looks unto Jesus, who is the author of his faith, that he can expect to find him the finisher of his faith also.
Revelation xxii. 17.
The spirit and the bride say- Come!': and let him, that heareth, say- Come!'-! and let him, that is athirst, come! and, whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely!
I HAVE now according to the humble measure of my ability brought the series of discourses, brethren, on which we entered together, to a termination. I have shewn you some of the proofs, which appear to me clearly to establish the fact, first, that we live under the government of an almighty, gracious, wise, and holy being, by whom we were created, and on whom we continually depend; secondly, that we have violated his laws, and are for this reason exposed to the sentence of his just
displeasure; thirdly, that he has mercifully instituted a way for our deliverance from this righteous sentence, having given his son to suffer punishment in our stead; and lastly I have shewn you, in what this way of deliverance consists, namely, that if, repenting of our sins, we rely on the atonement of Christ for justification before God, he will not only in answer to our prayers justify us freely, and forgive us all our past offences, but also bestow upon us in answer to our prayers the graces of his holy spirit, who will dwell in our hearts, mould our thoughts and affections to his will, and in short renew and transform and sanctify us wholly, though gradually, till we at length become meet for the inheritance of the saints in light, and are received by him to his own glory and joy. The course of this sanctifying process with its various impediments and helps we have also traced, and have thus followed the christian through his career of conflict to his final triumph.
In the midst of these descriptions it is disheartening to reflect, that there may be some, there may even possibly be many, who hear
me, who have not yet been brought seriously to enter upon this course of christian hope and practice; who assent in words to its reasonableness and propriety, but cannot resolve on that first sacrifice, without which they may not enter the portal. Numbers doubtless are in this state of mind, who yet profess to be christians, and reckon themselves secure of Heaven without any touch of spiritual feeling, or any anxiety about conforming to that plan of salvation, which is revealed in the scriptures. Some indeed are entangled by particular vices, and, while they are serving divers lusts and pleasures, are determined not to have too much to do with a religion, which condemns them. But without such a cause of hostility to the truth, and consistently with a decorous and virtuous life, men are withheld from embracing cordially a system of doctrine, which, if it strictly prohibits all immorality on the one hand, on the other opens the kingdom of Heaven to all believers.
And why is it, that they are so reluctant? It is not for want of invitation. The bible is full
of invitations, and addresses them to all classes