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a deluded imagination, and repel the vain and unsubstantial wanderings of fancy. But as error does not
excess annihilate the On the contrary, our
confute truth, so neither does origin from which it springs. religious feelings acquaint us that all this is intrinsically authentic and true, however it may have been mistaken, or perverted to absurd and extravagant conclusions. To make it correct in its consequences, it must be pure and satisfied in its object. And what can produce this, but the purity and satisfaction of God himself? What can show us the fulness of the Divinity, but a true apprehension of his justice and mercy? His justice is invariable, his mercy is everlasting. The union may be incomprehensible; but it is complete in God through Jesus Christ.
is no religion upon earth, except the Christian, which can satisfy the demands of all these claimants, and restore an union between them; which can show how God's word can be true, and his work just; and the sinner, notwithstanding, find mercy and obtain pardon and peace. A God incarnate reconciled all things in heaven and earth. When Christ appeared in our nature the promise was fulfilled, and truth sprang out of the earth. And now, righteousness looking down from heaven, beheld in Him every thing she required; an undefiled birth, an holy life, an innocent death, a spirit and a mouth without guile, a soul and a body without sin. She saw and was satisfied, and returned to earth. Thus all the four parties met again, in per
fect harmony 1." "Mercy and truth are met together; righteousness and peace have kissed each other." Hence the origin and connexion of religious affections.
The kindness and philanthropy of God our Saviour towards man, explain that love of God, which dwells, or ought to dwell, in every human breast, "We love God, because he first loved us." And for the same reason the love of man is propagated through every heart, as the natural consequence of a pure and unadulterated love of God. "No man hath seen God at any time. If we love one another, God dwelleth in us, and his love is perfected in us "." This holy principle we perceive in the enjoyment of every temporal, and every spiritual blessing. The freeness of God's love in sending his Son into the world that we might live through him, is not only the encouragement, but the perfection of those kindly affections which unite man with God, and with one another. And hereby know we, that we dwell in him and he in us, because he hath given us of his Spirit *;" the assurance of our obedience in exciting the divine affections of the heart, is the test both of our faith and of our duty.
St. Peter's argument leads to the same conclusion. Speaking of the appearance of Jesus Christ, he says, "whom having not seen ye love, in whom, though now ye see him not, yet believing, ye rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory; receiving the end of
1 Horne's Ps. lxxxv. 10.
21 John iv. 19.
3 Ibid. v. 12.
your faith, even the salvation of your souls 1." When we know that we are beloved, and that our true, though unseen benefactor, has done so much for us, our whole conduct, on this view, becomes very delightful; every pleasurable feeling mixes itself with all our affections. It is needless to offer precepts of obedience: the effusion of an impressed heart pours forth itself in a continued stream of complacency and happiness. It is an irrefragable proof that the religious affections of an established disciple of the Gospel, are of a firmer texture than to be disturbed by every blast of vain opinion. The love of Christ speaks its own value; and is far beyond all calculation of ordinary kindness. Make this personal; and then ask, what returns are due to such an infinite Benefactor? The record of truth pronounces our sentence justly due-the Son of the most high God, one with the Father and the Holy Spirit, cancels that sentence by the offering of himself-and when he sets us free, then are we free indeed not merely free from the penalty of sin, but from sin itself-then are the affections of the heart rewarded; then, indeed, do we become children of God, being children of the resurrection.
1 1 Pet. i. 8, 9.
III.-Stubbornness of Soul.
STUBBORNNESS of disposition, or a fatal hardness of mind, is a sad token of original depravity, and becomes, by indulgence, an unperceived sin in the soul. Of all the mental qualities, this is the most opposite to kindly affection and that melting goodness of heart, which demonstrates the principle and distinguishes the character of the primitive Christian. It is, in itself, a deceitful companion of the bosom, as it is cherished as a friend, when it is, in fact, a concealed enemy. The distinction will be best understood by a comparison between the unbending character of the ancient Jews, who "walked in the stubbornness of their evil hearts 1," and the child-like innocence and simplicity of St. Paul's convert, who "thinketh no evil, but beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things."
To endeavour to conquer this resistance of the spirit, this native asperity of the soul, is a seasonable exertion of a Christian mind. Difficult as it has been found, it should always be remembered that a faithful servant of the Gospel can do all things, things difficult to other men, through Christ that strengtheneth him3. There were Jews who laid aside their stubborn
1 Jer. iii. 17.
21 Cor. xiii. 7.
3 Phil. iv. 13.
ness: there are Christians who have become new creatures. Though some are blinded, all are not; and none are
blinded but such as pertinacity of mind. And even of these, if we penetrate a little beneath the surface in scrutinizing the heart, we shall find that the man himself feels something wrong when he is "slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken." It is when he places a barrier here, that sinfulness is discovered: and that the malignity of sin may be attributed to this disposition of mind is evident, when it moved our Lord himself to "anger, being grieved for the hardness of their hearts'," in rejecting a miracle performed before their eyes. Even his disciples did not escape his displeasure, when he "upbraided them for their unbelief and hardness of heart, because they believed not them that had seen him after he was risen "."
resist the truth by some inward
It is astonishing into what innumerable branches of mischief this unfortunate propensity leads. The sceptic, stubborn from principle, the voluptuary stubborn from a false estimation of the pleasures and enjoyments of life; the heretic, entrenched behind prejudice and false reasoning; the doubtful, resisting some things, and the infidel resisting all things, both of nature and of grace, constitute a very formidable array against sacred truth. But none but the timid will be discouraged. We may say with Elisha," Fear
1 Mark iii. 5.
2 Mark xvi. 14.