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this. The conquest of one difficulty increases the capacity of the soul to conquer another. And thus on. (2.) The promises of God's word insure this. Satan is to be put under our feet. We are to overcome as Christ overcame. We are to become more than conquerors.
SUBJECT : The good, in relation to their Spirit, their God,
and the Universe. “All things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose."-Rom. viii. 28.
Jualysis of Homily the Seven Handred and Forty-Fifth. TITHOUT offering any preliminary remarks upon this
chapter, which is a triumphant hymn, every part of which is gloriously suggestive, I shall at once exhibit the class of persons referred to in the text. Who are they? They are called by different names in the New Testament, “disciples," "saints," " children of God,” &c., &c. They are the truly good. These words present the truly good. I. IN RELATION TO THE SPIRIT OF THEIR LIFE.
• They love God.” Love to God is the differentia of their spiritual being. But what is this love? It is not a passing sentiment. In the hearts of most men, perhaps, there comes up at times an emotional love towards the great Father. Love to God, however, only becomes virtuous when it rises into a permanent predominance. There are three kinds, or rather three forms of virtuous love towards God. (1.) Love of gratitude. This is awakened by the contemplation of his wonderful favours. (2.) Love of esteem. This is awakened by a view of his moral excellences. (3.) Love of benevolence. This is awakened by a belief in the universal goodness of his purposes. In relation to man these forms of love may exist separately. We may feel gratitude for kindness where we cannot feel esteem for excellence. We may have esteem for excellence where we may have no gratitude, simply because no favours have been shown. And we may have both where we have no benevolence, simply because the grand purpose of the object's life may not seem good. But in relation to God, love takes these three forms. His favours are infinite, and therefore gratitude is supreme. His character is absolutely perfect, and therefore moral esteem is supreme. His grand purpose is good, and good only; and there is the wishing well to all his plans and aims. Love, religious love, thanks Him for what He has done, adores Him for what He is, wishes. Him well for what He is pursuing. Its prayer is, “ Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.”
There is no good man, whatever his creed, Church, profession, sentiment, who has not this love as a dominant power at the fount of all activities.
These words present the truly good,
II. IN RELATION TO THE CONDUCT OF GOD. First, He has “called" them to love. How does He call men to love Him ? Not by force. Love cannot come by commands and penalties. He calls men to love by exhibiting the loveable in Himself, by exhibiting his mercies to awaken gratitude, his perfection to awaken esteem, his benevolence to awaken a hearty goodwill. This He does. (1.) In the phenomena of nature, how loveable God appears in the forms and operations of the universe. In all nature God calls men to love Him. This He does. (2.) In the dispensations of life. In all the events of our mortal life, from the cradle to the grave, He appears before us as an object to command our affections. This He does. (3.) In the biography of Christ, here we have his kindness, his perfections, and his benevolent designs. Thus He calls us to love Him. He who shows us the most loveable gives to us the strongest call to love. God shows the loveable to man in a degree infinitely higher than any creature in the universe can do.
Secondly: He has "called" them to love according to his purpose. “Who are the called according to his purpose ?" Whatever He does through all ages, He purposed doing from the beginning. He does not act fitfully, or by caprice, but by predetermination. From the beginning He purposed calling his intelligent creatures to love Him. All the arrangements of nature, the machinery of his government, and all the revelations of Himself, show this. The Gospel is his especial call to man as a sinner to love Him. And how exquisitely adapted it is to generate in depraved souls the affection.
These words present the truly good
III. IN RELATION TO THE WORKINGS OF PROVIDENCE. All things work together for good.” (1.) All things are working. The animate and inanimate, the material and spiritual, the great and small, the proximate and the remote, all things are in operation. There is nothing stationary. God moves, and the universe moves. (2.) All things are working harmoniously. “They work together.” The universe is a system of co-operative forces. A manufacturing machine in operation looked at in certain parts, appears all counter-action, wheels running in reverse directions; but viewed from the point where the result of the whole is developed, an harmonious co-working of every part is demonstrated by the exquisite fabric that is rolling out. What seems counter-working is in reality co-working. The notes that seem discordant blend with sounds which we are too deaf to hear, and chime melodiously with the whole piece. (3.) All things are working harmoniously for good. The co-operation is not for evil, but for good, and good only. If evil come it is not intentional, it is accidental, it is not by the necessity of things, it is by the freedom of souls. (4.) All things are working harmoniously for the good of the good. “Those that love God.” This is a point, and Paul says we know" it. How do we know it ?
First: From à priori reasoning. On the assumption that the Creator is benevolent, we are bound to conclude that He would direct all to the happiness of those that love Him. It
is ever the instinct of his creatures to seek the happiness of those that love them. We know it
Secondly: From the arrangements of the universe. Does not the exquisite adaptation of outward nature to minister to our animal senses and physical wants, to our desire for knowledge and love for the beautiful, show that the Creator intended to make his moral creatures happy? We know it
Thirdly: From the special provisions of the Gospel. Here is pardon, purity, knowledge, consolation, holy fellowship, and a blessed Paradise. We know it
Fourthly: From the operation of the affections. (1.) Love to God puts the soul into harmony with the universe. The soul destitute of love to God is in antagonism with the whole system of nature. (2.) Love to God enables the soul happily to appropriate the universe. In truth, love is happiness. We know it-Fifthly : From the biography of the good. Joseph, David, Daniel, Paul. We know it-Sixthly: From the assurances of God's Word.
SUBJECT: Religious Decision.
Analysis of Homily the Seven Hundred and Forty-Sixth.
kind is good ; and most men in civilized countries will admit that the religion of Christ is, of all religions, the best; and there are many men, notwithstanding that they have not embraced this religion, who will confess readily that there cannot be salvation apart from it; and some of them will admit still further, that, unless they have a vital and experimental interest in it, they must be damned cverlastingly; and yet, strange to think, they treat the religion of Christ with the greatest indifference, and wilfully procrastinate to receive its doctrine as a rule of life, and as a basis for their hope of future happiness.
Why is it that persons, who make such liberal and reason-' able concessions as these, hesitate for a single moment to give a most hearty reception to a religion so essentially virtuous, and indispensable to their everlasting well-being? Can it be that they are sincere in their acknowledgments of the real worth of Christianity; or do they actually mean to deceive us? There are many men in every Christian community, I warrant to assert, whose integrity cannot be questioned, who will frankly endorse all these concessions, and yet they have not given their hearts to Jesus! And why is this? It is not for the want of an intellectual appreciation of the Gospel, but for the want of a right disposition to yield to its influence—it is an error of the heart, not of the judgment, that prevents them from deciding for God. As the conviction under the influence of the Gospel is sharpened, and the carnal propensities under the influence of the world are aroused, the soul oscillates between the world and the kingdom of Christ, the pleasures of sin and the reproach of religion. This instability is detrimental to man's best interest, therefore he should be thoroughly decided in his conduct towards Christ and his kingdom. Hence, we invite attention to the following considerations :
“ Choose you
I. TAE IMPORTANCE OF RELIGIOUS DECISION. this day whom ye will serve.” Why is decision in any matter of such importance ?
First: Because thus only can the harmonious operation of all the powers of the soul be secured. Man is endowed with very great powers of volition, reason, affection, conscience, and imagination. These powers have been given to him to be usefully employed, and their united and harmonious employment requires the most thorough and inflexible decision; and a decision, in order to partake of this character, must necessarily be in absolute conformity with eternal rectitude. There can be discord between the various operations of the mind; schism in the soul; the law of the flesh warring against the law of the spirit; a conflict between inclinations,