« AnteriorContinuar »
are most grieved that their desires after him are so faint and languid ; for what desires of our narrow hearts after Christ bear any proportion to the infinite excellency and grace which are seen in him by a soul illuminated with his Spirit ?
But have you forgotten that your right to Christ is to be found, not in your own hearts, but in the word of God? I do not say that you
have an interest in Christ, nor do I say thai you have any better right to believe on Christ than the most thoughtless and prophane of your neighbors. What I say is, that you
have the same right that every gospel hearer has, to believe on bim, and that if you are awakened to a sense of your need of Christ, you are less excusable than your thoughtless neighbors, if you do not make use of this right. The reason why I have spoken of the manner in which Cod draws men to Christ, is not to afford you a pretence for deferring the duty of believing till you feel the evidence of God's drawing power, but to convince
you that you ought not to suspend your duty upon such feelings. God gives you rich and sufficient encouragement in his word to hope for the effectual working of his power; but you must leave him to his own ways of exerting it, and endeavor, without as. king questions, to comply with his revealed will. When Jesus ordered the disciples to divide the five loaves among twelve or four
teen thousand persons, they did not tell him that it would only expose them to derision from the multitude to comply with his order, till he multiplied the loaves. They did what he commanded them to do, and found that his commandment was not vain. He multiplied the loaves when the multitude received them. Thus, when God commands you to believe on the name of his Son, you must not say to him, First do what thou alone canst do, and give me good evidence that thou doest it, and then I will do wiat thou requirest me to do.' Sav rather, ' It is a good thing that a man should both hype and quietly wait for the salvation of the Lord I will therefore endeavor to wait for his salvation, depending on his word, and complying with his will.' His command to believe on the name of his Son, is not designed to ensnare us. It is a gra ious commandment, and blessed are they who are determined, by divine giace, to make his will the rule of their conduct, rather than the vain reasonings of their own hearts.
Do you allege that there is a great appearance of contradiction between our doctrine of man's inability to believe, and our injunction to believe? Remember that both the doctrine and injunction are God's and not ours; and God calls the things that be not, as thought they were. The Almighty may prescribe whatever he pleases with effect. He says to the deep, Be thou dry; and dries up all the rivers. He says to the blind, See, and to the dead, Live.
God commands men to believe on the name of his Son, and I know that I cannot come to Christ unless God himself draws me. What then ? Shall I refuse to comply with the call ? On the same ground I may refuse to do any thing that God requires me to do. He requires me to sanctify the Lord's day.I cannot sanctify the Lord's day without the help of his grace. Yet I will not spend the day in sleep. I will not plow my ground or sow my seed on that holy day. I will rest from my labors. I will read and hear the word of God. I will endeavor to pray. I can do none of these things acceptably without grace from above.
God will, I hope, make his grace suti.cient for me. If he shouid, in his sovereignty, withhold that grace which I need, I cannot complain; but I must mourn bitterly, because I lose that precious time which might have been employed to so great auvantage. Yet after all, my sin will not be so great, though left to myself, in my endeavors to serve God, as it would have been if I had profanely spent the day in my ordinary employments, or in wilful idieness. I know that I cannot present an acceptable prayer to God, if I am left to myself. Shall I therefore never bend my knees till I feel an impulse upon my mind to prayer ? I cannut derive any benefit from reading the Bible, without
spiritual illumination. Shall I therefore suffer my Bible to be covered with dust, till I perceive a divine light springing up into my mind? Thus I know that I cannot by faith enter into God's rest, unless God work in me the work of faith with power; yet I will labor to enter into that rest of God, lest I fall after former examples of unbelief. That God who says to me, “Labor to enter into this rest," is abundant in goodness and truth. It is for my benefit that he gives this commandment, and he hath promised to turn the heart of stone into a heart of flesh.
Is there a contradiction between the doctrine of men's inability to believe and the cominandment to believe? It may as well be said, that our holy religion is full of contradictions in every part of it. There is no more contradiction here, than between the doctrine of unity and trinity in the nature of God, the doctrine of God's immutability, and the incarnation of a divine person, the doctrine of a Supreme Providence governing all our affairs, and the duty of diligence in our catlings. All God's ways are right and wise. Our comments upon. them are often vain. God best knows the conclusions that ought to be drawn from his own precious truths.