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glory. The mind of Christ, and the life to which it prompts, are the things to which eternal glory is promised. But I couldn't understand Mr. Jones. Either he had no ideas on the subject, or he failed to convey them to me.
-I see no mystery in John's doctrine that God dwells in those in whom love dwells, for God is love. And I see no mystery in what Peter says about Christians being partakers of the divine nature; for the Divine nature is purity, wisdom and love. We share the common human nature and the common animal nature; that is, we have certain qualities or properties in common with men generally, and with the inferior orders of living things. So we share the divine nature, when we have the same dispositions, affections, qualities as the divine Being. And the properties of the divine being are purity, knowledge, love.
-I have just been listening to another antinomian sermon. The preacher contended that we are justified and saved solely on account of what Christ has done and suffered for us, and that the only thing we have to do, is to believe this, or trust in the merits of Christ, and be at rest as to our eternal destiny. But if we are saved solely on account of what Christ has done and suffered, why talk as if our believing this, or trusting in Christ's merits, was necessary to salvation? Why not go a step further and say, that neither believing nor trusting has anything to do with our salvation? But the whole theory is as anti-scriptural and false as it is foolish and mischievous. The preacher said, "We are not under the law,-Christ has redeemed us from the curse of the law." Very true; but we are under the Gospel; and the Gospel requires a more perfect life than the law required. The law of Christ is much stricter than the law of Moses. He said, "By the works of the law no flesh living can be justified." But we may still be justified by the works of the Gospel. "Forgive, and ye shall be forgiven." "By thy words shalt thou be justified, and by thy words shalt thou be condemned." 66 With what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again." "Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain Because thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things: enter
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thou into the joy of thy Lord." "Repent and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out. "We have confidence in the day of judgment, because as He was so are we in this world."
He said circumcision availeth nothing; and it is true that "the circumcision which is outward in the flesh" avails nothing under the Christian dispensation: but that which is inward, namely, the putting away of all filthiness, and living a holy life, availeth much.
Then followed a lot of unscriptural and unwise talk about our own righteousness and Christ's righteousness. But the truth is, when we love God and keep His commandments,-when we love Christ and do as He bids us, and believe, in consequence, that we are approved of God, and in a fair way for heaven, we trust in God's righteousness, or Christ's righteousness, and not in a righteousness of our own. The righteousness of God means the righteousness which God requires; the righteousness of Christ means obedience to His precepts, and conformity to His mind and .character. True, if I obey the Gospel, my obedience is my own, but the law, or the righteousness prescribed, is Christ's. It is when men make a law of their own,-when they set aside God's law, and put some other law in its place, and expect God's blessing in consequence of obeying that, that they trust in their own righteousness. And in all such cases men's own righteousness, in God's sight, is "as filthy rags." But hearty, loving obedience to God's own law is never regarded by Him "as filthy rags," but as a rich adorning. Real Christian goodness is, in the sight of God, "of great price."
'Than gold or pearls more precious far,
Christian obedience is a sacrifice with which God is well pleased. "To do good and to communicate forget not, for with such sacrifices God is well pleased." He alone trusts in the righteousness of Christ who hears Christ's words and does them,-who cultivates Christ's mind, and lives as Christ lived, and who, in doing so, expects, according to Christ's promise, God's blessing and eternal life. The idea that God looks on any persons as having lived like Christ
when they have not done so; or that He supposes any persons to be righteous, or treats them as righteous, when they are not so, is foolish and anti-scriptural in the extreme. And it is unmethodistical too. Yet here is a Methodist preacher so-called, dealing out this mischievous and miserable folly. And alas he is not alone. And these are the men who abuse others as heretics.
-The good done where preachers preach theology is not done by the preaching, I fancy, but by stray truth from the Gospels, and by the Christian lives and Christian labors of simple-minded, Bible-loving, non-theological members of the church. God bless them!
-Wesley has thirty definitions of religion, and they all mean, in substance, loving God and loving man, and living to do good. Wesley was always sensible in proportion as he got away from under the influence of the prevailing Theology.
-Some talk as if a religious education can never be the means of a child's conversion,-that, do for your children what you will, they will still, like others, require a distinct and full conversion when they come of age. I cannot see
why a good Christian mother talking to her child from her old arm-chair, and praying with it as it kneels by her side, or the good example and godly training of a pious father, may not be made as effectual to the gradual conversion of a child as the preaching of a pastor from the pulpit. Nor can I see why a gradual elevation of a child to the higher spiritual life should not be as possible and as probable as the sudden elevation of a hardened and inveterate sinner. You cannot give your children grace,' it is said: but it is easy to answer, 'GOD can give children grace through the medium of Christian parents, as well as through public preachers and teachers.' I encourage people to bring up their children in Christian knowledge and goodness, by telling them that God may be expected to bless their labors to the sanctification and salvation of their children from their early days. Baxter used to thank God that he was led by his good parents to love God so early that he could not recollect a time when he did not love Him.
-Churches exist in this world to remind us of the eternal laws which we are bound to obey. So far as they do
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this, they answer their end, and are honored in doing so. It would have been better for all of us-it would be better for us now, could churches keep this their peculiar function steadily and singly before them. Unfortunately, they have preferred in later times the speculative side of things to the practical.
-There is a tendency in men to corrupt religion; to change it from an aid and incentive to a holy life, into a contrivance to enable men to sin without fear of punishment. Obedience to God's law is dispensed with, if men will diligently profess certain opinions, or practically take part in certain rites. However scandalous the moral life, the profession of a particular belief, or attention to certain forms, at the moment of death, is held to clear the soul.
—It would be easy to give a hundred instances of doctrines to be heard in sermons and found in religious books, which are nowhere taught in Scripture. And some of them exert a mighty influence for evil on the church and the world. They check the spread of Christianity. They strengthen the cause of infidelity. They keep people away from Christ. They make an all but .impassable gulf between the church and the mass of humanity.
-Some think they would not have enough to talk about if they were to give up all the doctrines or notions for which I say there is no scriptural authority. One preacher told me I had already spoiled some of his best sermons. He said he had never been able to preach them with comfort since he began to listen to my conversation. The truth is, preachers will never know what great, good things there are to be talked about, till they get rid of their foolish fancies. Nor will they know the true pleasure of talking till they come to feel that their utterances are the words of eternal truth. And so far will they be from not having enough to talk about, that if they give themselves in a Christian spirit, to study the truth as it is in Jesus, they will never have time to utter a tenth of the blessed things that will present themselves to their minds.
A hundred years would not afford me time enough to all that I get glimpses of on religious subjects as presented in nature and in the Scriptures. Every subject I take in hand requires ten times more time to do it justice
than is generally allowed for a sermon. And the subjects are numberless. We live in an infinite universe of truth.
"I rejoice," says one, "that I have been led, in the course of God's providence, to do so much as I have done, towards purging revelation from those doctrines and practices which were discordant with its teachings, and prevented its reception with many."
Shall I ever be able to do anything in this way? God help me. If I could make the Church and the ministry more Christ-like, and more powerful for good, what a blessing it would be. What a world of work wants doing, both in the church and in the world. Save me from an impatient, pugnacious, disagreeable spirit. Perhaps I see the needs of others more than I feel my own. Perhaps I am in danger of being more eager for reform in others, than for a thoroughly Christian spirit and behavior in myself.
How many words and phrases one hears in sermons and in prayers, and what heaps of expressions one meets with in religious works, that are not warranted by Scripture or common sense!
-Some of the words and phrases that are more frequently used by Christians than any other, are unscriptural ones. Some of them express unscriptural ideas. Some of them are names of things that have no existence. Both the words and the ideas for which they stand are anti-christian. Many of the things said from the pulpit are unintelligible. The people strain their minds to get at a meaning, but to no purpose. It is Latin or Greek to them. They listen, but do not learn. They hear sounds, but catch no sense. They reverence, they worship, but they do not understand. They believe, they feel, that there are great spiritual realities, but they are not made clear to their minds. The devouter portion of the people still pray, and on the whole, live sober, righteous and godly lives; but multitudes are discouraged, and take themselves away.
"The hungry sheep look up and are not fed."
They hear words, but get no ideas. Religion does not come to them from the pulpit as a reality. It does not make itself felt as truth. Books and lecturers on science