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Thirty-Fifth Jabbatlı —Euruing.
THE GRACE OF GOD.
"By the grace of God, I am what I am."- Cor. xv, 10.
EVERY Christian is a debtor to divine grace, and however high an opinion any man may have of himself, he can only be saved in the same way as the dying thief, or as Saul of Tarsus, the chief of sinners. The language of this text embodies the experience of Paul, who was the greatest sinner-who became the greatest Christian, and who did so wholly by grace.
He was a great sinner.—His heart was bad. It was hardened in sin-elated with self-righteousness, wickedly opposed to Christ and His followers, and mischievously inclined to injure and destroy them. “I verily thought with myself, that I ought to do many things contrary to the name of Jesus of Nazareth.” In referring to the heart of Saul of Tarsus, I must not forget my own. I believe it to be naturally as bad as his. It was fully inclined to evil, it was deceitful above all things, desperately wicked, and unsearchably wicked, and out of it proceeded evil thoughts, and all manner of iniquity. O God, wert Thou to set my sins in Thy presence, and my secret faults in the light of Thy countenance, I am undone. His conversation was bad. He was “a blasphemer,” and when he got any of
THE GRACE OF GOD.
the followers of Christ in his power, “he compelled them to blaspheme.” Thus, his sation in the Jews' religion” was wicked and heaven-daring. What of my conversation ? Have I never spoken lightly of Christ, nor of Christians? Have I never thought and said, that the Word of God, especially when opposed to my inclinations, was a bad book? Have I never taken the name of God in vain, and wished that there were no hereafter, and no judgment? Pardon, O God, my evil and my idle words. His conduct was bad. He not only sinned against God, but against his fellow-men.
Many of the saints did I shut up in prison, having received authority from the chief priests, and when they were put to death, I gave my voice against them.” So cruel was Saul as a persecutor, that tender women were often his victims. Now, my conduct may never have been anything like this, because human laws might not put it in my power, but have I not often acted wickedly against God and against my neighbour ? If I were to justify myself, my own mouth would condemn me.
“ God be merciful to me a sinner.” He became a great Christian. He believed the gospel of Christ. He believed in Jesus as his Saviour, and hence he told others to do what he had done. 6 Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved.” The faith of Paul was not a mere opinion, but a great
reality. “I know whom I have believed.” Am I like Paul, a believer in Jesus? Have I received Him as my Saviour ? Have I fixed my faith only on Him, and seen, in His justifying righteousness, my ground of acceptance with God, and my title to heaven. He obeyed the commandments of Jesus. While he was an earnest advocate of justification by faith without works, he maintained, that all who have believed should be careful to practice good works. Faith alone justified, but it was a faith that produced holy obedience, and led to universal holiness. Do I thus prove my Christianity, by obedience to the commandments of Jesus ? He laboured to advance the cause of Christ. He did so more abundantly than all the apostles, yet he says, “ Not I, but the grace of God which was with me." Am I labouring for the cause of Christ, by my exertions, my contributions, and my prayers ?
He did so by grace. Grace revealed to him the way of life, when he was madly pursuing the way of death. Grace made him decide for Christ, and the grace which was bestowed upon him was not in vain. Grace supported him under all his trials. And grace encouraged him in all his labours. O my soul, dost thou feel that thou art a debtor to divine grace ? Grace planned thy salvation, grace revealed it, and grace applies it.
THE WHOLE OF RELIGION.
“Fear God and keep His commandments: for this is the whole duty of
man."-Eccles. xii, 13.
This text contains the sum and substance of the royal preacher's discourse to the inhabitants of Jerusalem. It informs us of the root of religion -the rule of religion-and the importance of religion to man.
The root of religion is—"Fear God.” He is our King, our Lawgiver, and our Judge, and it is our duty to fear Him. The fear of God is a comprehensive duty, and includes, like prayer, all other duties. It has its seat in the heart, and implies holy reverence. God's majesty and our meanness, God's holiness and our sinfulness, God's justice and our guilt, God's eternity and our frailty, may well beget the deepest reverence.
Shall we be awed in the presence of earthly rulers, and shall we not be abased before the all-seeing God? Shall the splendour of earthly thrones dazzle us, and shall we not cover our faces before the throne of the Eternal ? This fear includes filial confidence. God is a kind and merciful Father-we are forgetful and disobedient children ; but we should cherish towards Him humble confidence and holy love. An erring child comes back to its father for forgiveness ; so we should come to our Father in heaven, confiding in Him for pardoning mercy. An injured child runs to his father for protection and comfort; so, in all our trials, we fly to Him who is our refuge and our strength. We should fear Him, not as a slave fears his tyrannical master, but as a child fears the salutary authority of a parent. This fear includes the fear of offending Him. God requires us to depart from evil, and conduct ourselves as obedient children, and we should fear, and sin not. The wise servant fears to give offence to his master, so we should be afraid of offending God by sins of omission or commission. When tempted to sin, we should remember that God sees us, and we should fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.
The rule of religion is—“Keep His commandments.” Obedience is the test and evidence of fear and love; and it must be sincere. Obedience must flow from the heart, as water flows from a fountain ; from a heart subjected to the authority of God, and filled with His love. We must obey, as accountable to Him who discerns the springs of duty as well as the actions of the life. Our obedience must be universal. Not merely one commandment, but all His commandments, should engage our attention. We have duties which we owe to ourselves-duties to parents and friends-duties to the Church of Christand duties to the world ; and we must give heed