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203 Or when you are hindered therefrom. He is not hindered. He is always ready : Always able, always willing to save. It is the Lord, let him do what seemeth him good!
Secondly, Before you use any means, let it be deeply impressed on your soul, ." There is no power in this. It is in itself a poor, dead, empty thing : Separate from God; it is a dry leaf, a shadow. Neither is there any merit in my using this ; nothing intrinsically pleasing to God, nothing whereby I deserve any favour at his hands, no, not a drop of water to cool my tongue. But because God bids, therefore I do ; because he directs me to wait in his way, therefore here I wait for his free mercy, whereof cometh my salvation.”
Settle this in your heart, that the opus operatum, the mere work done profiteth nothing: That there is no power to save, but in the Spirit of God; no merit, but in the blood of Christ : That consequently, even what God ordains, conveys no grace to the soul, if you trust not in him alone. On the other hand, he that does truly trust in him, cannot fall short of the grace of God, even though he were cut off from every outward ordinance, though he were shut up in the center of the earth.
Thirdly, In using all means, seek God alone. In and through every outward thing, look singly to the power of his Spirit, and the merits of his Son. Beware you do not stick in the work itself; if you do, it is all lost labour. Nothing short of God can satisfy your soul. Therefore eye him, in all, through all, and above all,
Remember also to use all means, as means : As ordained, not for their own sake, but in order to the renewal of your soul in righteousness and true holiness. If there fore they actually tend to this, well, Bul if not, they are dung and dross. Lastly, After you have used any of these, take care how you value yourself thereon: How you congratulate yourself, as having done some great thing. This is turning all into poison. Think, God was not there, what does this avail ? Have I not been adding sin to sin? How long ! O Lord ! save or I perish! O lay not this sin to my charge !" If God was there, if his love flowed into your heart, you have forgot, as it were, the outward work. You see, you
know; you feel, God is All ih All. Be abused. Sink down before hin. Give him all the praise. Let God in all things be glorified through Christ Jesus. Let all your bones cry out, My song shall be always of the loving kindness of the Lord: With my mouth will I ever Be telling of thý truth, from one generation to anothér!
Circumcision is that of the heart, in the spirit, and not in the letter.
1. IT T is the melancholy remark of an excellent man,
that “ He who now preaches the most essential duties of Christianity, runs the hazard of being es teemed by a great part of his hearers, a setter forth of new do&trines. Most men have so lived away the subştance of that religion, the profession whereof they still retain, that no sooner are any of those truths proposed, which difference the spirit of Christ from the spirit of the world, than they cry out, Thou bringest strange things to our ears : we would know what these things mean.--Though he is only preaching to them Jesus and the résurreétion, with the necessary consequences of it, If Christ be risen, ye ought then to die unto the world, and to live wholly unto God.
* Preached at St. Mary's, Oxford, before the University, January 1, 1733
- 2. A kard saying this to the natural man, who is alive unto the world, and dead unto God, and one that he will not readily be persuaded, to receive as the truth of God, unless it be so qualified in the interpretation, as to have neither use nor significancy left. He receiveth not the words of the Spirit of God, taken in their plain and obvious meaning. They are foolishness unto him: neither indeed can be knowo them, because they are spiritually discerned: They are perceivable only by that spiritual sense, which in him was never yet awakened ; for want of which he must reject as idle fancies of men, what are both the wisdom and the power of God.
3. That circumcision is that of the beart, in the spirit, and not in the letters that the distinguishing mark of a true follower of Christ, of one who is in a state of acceptance with God, is not either outward circumcision or baptism, or any other outward form, but i right state of soul, a mind and spirit renewed after the image of him that created it, is one of those ime portant truths, that can only be spiritually discerned. And this the apostle himself intimates in the next words, zbose praise is not of men, but of God. As if he had said,
Expect not, whoever thou art, who thus followest:thy great Máster, that the world, the men who follow him not, will say, Well done, good and faithful servant ! Know that the circumcision of the heart, the seal of thy calling, is foolishness with the world. Be content to wait for thy applause, till the day of thy Lord's appearing. In that day shalt thou have praise of God, in the great assembly of men and angels."
I design, first, particularly to enquire, Wherein tħis circumcision of heart consists: And, secondly, Tomention some reflections, that naturally arise from such an enquiry.
I. i. I am, first, to enquire, Wherein that circumcision of heart consists, which will receive the praise of God. In general we may observe, it is that habitual disposition of soul, which in the sacred writings is termed holiness, and which directly implies, the being Cleansed from sin, from all filthiness 'both of flesh and spirit, and by consequence, the being endued with those virá
tues, which were also in Christ Jesus, the being so renewed in the image of our mind, as to be perfeet, as; our Father, in heaven is perfe&t.
2. To be more particular. Circumcision of heart implies humility, faith, hope, and charity. Humility, a right judgment of ourselves, cleanses our minds from those high conceits of our own perfections, from that undue opinion of our own abilities and attainments, which are the genuine fruit of a corrupted nature. This entirely cuts off that vain thought, I am rich and wise, and have need of nothing and convinces us, that we are by nature wretched, and poor, and miserable, and blind, and naked. It convinces us, that in our best estate, we are of ourselves all sin and vanity ; that confusion, and ignorance, and error, reign over our understanding; that unreasonable, earthly, sensual, devilish passions, usurp authority over our will: in a.word, that there is no whole part in our soul, that all the foundations of our nature are out of course. 13. At the same time we are convinced, that we are potisufficient of ourselves to help ourselves; that without'the Spirit of God we can do nothing but add sin to sin: that it is he alone who worketh in us by his almighty power; either to will or do that which is good ; it being as impossible for us even co think a good thought, without the supernatural assistance of his Spirit, as to create ourselves, or to renew our whole souls in righteousness and true hojiness. 1.4. A sure effect of our having formed this right judgment, of the sinfulness and helplessness of our nature, is a disregard of that honour which cometh of man, which is usually paid to some supposed excellency in us.' He who knows himself, neither desires nor values the applause which he knows he deserves not. It is therefore a very small thing with him, to be judged by man's judgment. He has all reason to think, by comparing what it has said either for or against him, with what he feels in his own breast, that the world, as well as the God of this world, was a liar from the beginning. And even as to those who are not of the world, though he would chuse, if it were the will of God, that they should account of him as of one desirous to be found a faith
ful steward of his Lord's goods, if haply this might be a means of enabling him to be of more use to his fellow-servants; yet as this is the one end of his wishing for their approbation, so he does not at all rest upon it. For he is assured, that whatever God wills, he can never want instruments to perform; since he is able, even of these stones, to raise up servants to do his pleasure.
5. This is that lowliness of mind, which they have Jearned of Christ, who follow his example, and tread in his steps. And this knowledge of their disease, whereby they are more and more cleansed from one part of it, pride and vanity, disposes them to embrace, with a willing mind, the second thing implied in circumcision of heart, that faith which alone is able to make them whole, which is the one medicine given under heaven to heal their sickness.
6. The best guide of the blind, the surest light of them that are in darkness, the most perfect instructor of the foolish, is faith. But it must be such a faith as is mighty through God, to the pulling down of strong- holds, to the overturning all the prejudices of corrupt reason, all the false maxiis revered among men; all evil customs and habits; all that wisdom of the world which is foolishness with God; as casteth down imaginations (reasonings) and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringeth into captiviły every thought to the obedience of Christ.
7. All things are possible to him that thus believeth : the eyes of his understanding being enlightened, he sees what is his calling, even to glorify God, who hath bought him with so high a price, in his body and in his spirit, which now are God's by redemption, as well as by creation. He feels what is the exceeding greatness of his power, who as he raised up Christ from the dead, so is able to quicken us, dead in sin, by his Spirit which dwelleth in us. This is the vietory which overcometh the world, even our faith: that faith which is not only an unshaken assent to all that God hath revealed in scripture, and in particular to those important truths, Jesus Christ came into the world to save sinners; he bare our sins in his own body on the tree; he is the propitiation for our sins ; and not for ours only, but also for the sins of