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THE CHRISTIAN LIFE A WARFARE. 297 pression, the flesh, in the Scriptures, appears frequently to be meant human corruption, or those remains of this depravity, with which the believer has to struggle, and which, perhaps, have their seat in the flesh. This is one of the Christian's principal enemies. The world occasionally allures by its charms, or alarms by its terrors. The assaults of Satan take place at times, but are not constantly continued ; but the flesh is like a body of death, with which the Christian is perpetually burthened. The Scriptures represent the conquest and destruction of this constant enemy, as a painful and difficult achievement. It is not described as dying by a sudden wound, but by a slow and lingering death. “ They that are Christ's have crucified the flesh with its affections and lusts." Crucifixion was a lingering and tormenting death. The sufferer passed through many hours of agony. The young Christian commencing his course, full of joy and hope, may for a while be comparatively insensible to the presence of this constant enemy; but soon he will find that he has to struggle with an evil heart, and has need to crucify the flesh with its affections and desires.
$ 3. In every nation, in every age, this has been the experience of the followers of the Lamb. The eminent martyr, Bradford, on one occasion observed, “ O Lord ! sometimes methinks I feel it so with me, as if there were no difference between my heart and the wicked. I have as blind a mind as they ; as stout, stubborn, rebellious, and hard heart as they." Henry Martyn, so distinguished for piety, wrote in his journal, “ What a dark atheistical state do I live. in! Alas, that this creation should so engross my mind, and the Author of it be so slightly and coldly regarded! Amazing patience! he bears with this faithless, foolish heart !" Yet he who uttered these complaints, when breathing forth the pious feelings of his soul, could say, “Let me praise God, for hay. ing turned me from a life of woe to the enjoyment of peace and hope. The work is real. I can no more doubt it than I can doubt my existence; the whole current of my desires is altered—I am walking quite another way, though I am incessantly stumbling in that way—I had a most blessed view
of God and divine things. I looked forward to complete i conformity to him, as the great end of my existence, and my
assurance was full-I said, almost with tears, · Who shall se
THE CHRISTIAN'S CONFLICTS parate us from the love of Christ. This is my bliss, tha Christ is all. Upheld by him, I smile at death. O what have I to do but labour, and pray, and fast, and watch fa the salvation of my soul, and those of the heathen world."
Similar to the experience of these and other bright ornaments of the Christian church, has been that of the least distinguished disciples of the Saviour. The illiterate and un civilized heathen, when truly brought to embrace the gospel, has felt similar sorrows, and uttered similar complaints. A missionary, referring to negro converts, wrote, “ I was much delighted to hear about twenty of them give a simple but affecting account of the state of their minds. They seem to labour under trials from without and from within—from their el own country-people, and from the temptations of Satan, and the struggles of a depraved heart. They speak strongly as to , their good and their bad hearts, the one opposing the other, so that they cannot do the things that they would.” One said, “ Trouble too much live in my heart. Me be poor sinner. Me no see, me no feel, till God open my heart. Now my heart trouble me too much. Me think me have two hearts ; one good, one bad. Good heart tell me pray-bad heart tell me no pray. I try pray God, my bad heart trou ble me: he speak: he say, . No pray: go work. .“ Another said to him, Wicked thing trouble me too much. Me want to do good, but me wicked heart can't let me. Me heart run away all this week-run all about.• Suppose me pray, my heart run to my country-to Sierra Leone-all about. Sometimes them things me no want to remember come in my heart; and then me can't say no more but Jesus Christ have mercy upon me, poor thing! Me traja me no love Jesus Christ yet. Me want to love and serve him too much : but me bad heart! Me think sometimes me have two heartsone want do good: that other ale ways want do bad. O Jesus! have mercy upon me, poor sinner!'
“ Another complained, “My heart too wicked. Me cant love Jesus Christ. Me want to love him, but my wichu heart won't let me. When I pray, my heart tell me, which led you pray for ? Jesus Christ no hear your prayer ! You bad! May Jesus Christ give me a better heart! for my hear bad past all hearts !'"
299 Such is recorded as the simple and expressive language of - these illiterate disciples of the Saviour. # $ 4. Perhaps the feelings of your heart have often resembled
theirs. Have you not been cast down, and perhaps tempted to despair, because of the corruption which you felt within ? What has been the cause of your sorrow ?
Perhaps you mourn an evil heart of unbelief. The graces that exist in your soul, are so opposed and weakened by powerful corruptions, that they seem like light struggling with darkness. In some happy moments you think you do trust and will trust the Saviour with your all; but these moments too soon depart, and you feel as if you had no trust in him.
Sometimes you are ready to conclude, that you do indeed be--- lieve on the Saviour of the lost; but soon you feel faith so
weak, hope so dull, love so cold, that you doubt whether you possess any faith, or hope, or love. You are ready to exclaim, Can it be that such a cold dull creature as I am, believes
in the Lord Jesus Christ? Can thiş be the faith to which so e much is promised ? Do I indeed believe that Jesus died for To me, and yet love him no more? Do I indeed believe that sin
is so mischievous, and hate it so little ? Do I believe that heaven is so desirable? why then these cold affections ? these
languid desires ? And do I believe that God will order all I things for good ? whence then my fears? whence my rebeli lious will ? Surely I cannot be a believer ; if I am, Lord, help in my unbelief!
You must not infer that you have no faith, because faith is weak, or because you feel within you an evil heart of unbepilief. What servant of God, whose pięty his word records,
did not at some times feel the same? Jacob said, “ All these things are against me."a Job wished he had never been born.b
Asaph repined at the prosperity of the ungodly, and was i tempted to think a pious life vain. David expressed fear that b. God had cast him off for ever.d Peter when ordered by his Lord to walk upon the water, through want of faith began to sink.
O thou,” said his Lord, “ of little faith, wherefore didst thou , I doubt."e Often had the Saviour to reprove his apostles for
their unbelief. They had to pray, “Lord, increase our faith;" de and he represented what they had as hardly equal to a grain
(a) Gen. xlii. 36. .. (0) Job iii, 1. v. (C) Pș, lxxiii,
(e) Matt. xiv, 31.
VARIOUS CAUSES of mustard seed. If such was the weakness of this graa. $5. even in the hearts of apostles, when their Lord was with former them, be not cast down in despondency, though you have to crimes, complain. It is unspeakably desirable for faith to strengthensroken, into full assurance; yet there may be a precious and saving uke wa faith in a heart, that feels many of the struggles of unbelief, bellion and that clings to the Saviour with a trembling hand. giver
Notwithstanding the struggles of unbelief, if you have so poyed much faith as leads you to give up earth for heaven, this is uful, s genuine; for “ This is the victory that overcometh the world, even our faith."8
Though you may keep your hold on the gospel with a that yo trembling hand; though you may feel and mourn the pre- ruce yo valence of unbelief; yet if you have such faith as renders selects' a Christ precious to you; as leads you to love his friends, to istog walk in his ways, and to count all things loss for him; this tection in his word, in plain and unequivocal language, is declared at like to be saving. « To you that believe he is precious." If either re Christ is precious to you, it is plain you believe. “We know im nothi that we have passed from death unto life, because we love the Do so brethren."i "Ye are my friends, if ye do whatsoever I com sider mand you.” “Verily I say unto you, There is no man that ot? O hath left house, or parents, or brethren, or wife, or children, flise he for the kingdom of God's sake, who shall not receive maniere felt fold more in this present time, and in the world to come liteed; everlasting."
Nor must you suppose that the Saviour is unwilling to help ven, i you, because you feel the painful struggles, occasioned by an Arators. evil heart of unbelief. When the poor supplicant, begging seless relief for his child, exclaimed, “Lord, I believe; help thou stepeni mine unbelief;"m did Jesus refuse his aid, and say, Subdue that a crim unbelief; then come to me, and I will help you. Far was le sanct such conduct from his compassionate heart. Instead of this pd by i he answered the supplicant's prayer, and strengthened his from the faith, by giving him his request. He is “the same yesterday, posing to-day, and for ever.”n Wait then at his footstool till he'd the bless. A time will come when unbelief shall die; nor shalsed tal one of its struggles be felt in the happy soul through eterna ages.
(5) Luke xvii. 5, 6. (9) 1 John v. 4.
(h) 1 Pet. ï. 10.
(1) Luke xviii. 29, 30.
301 $ 5. Perhaps your soul sinks within you on the review of former years. Conscience accuses you with thousands of crimes, and brings to remembrance mercies abused, sabbaths broken, sins committed without concern, iniquity drank in
like water, and many long rebellious years employed in re...bellion against God. Now you think, Can all these crimes be
forgiven? Can one, who was so long and so zealously employed in the service of hell, ever reach heaven? Can one so sinful, so impure, as I have been, ever find admission to that holy world, where nothing that defileth can enter ?
Perhaps your discouragement springs, not so much from what you were, as from what you are. You feel that every grace you have is so weak; that so many imperfections and defects adhere to you; you find in yourself much backwardness to good, much proneness to evil; you lament wandering affections and sinful inclinations. You are ready to exclaim, I am like no one else; no heart is so hard as mine. I can neither repent, nor believe, nor love, nor obey as I ought. I
am nothing but unworthiness. " Do some or all these things sink you in depression? Then
consider for what did Jesus come. Was it not to save the lost? Can you be more lost than utterly lost? yet such are those he came to seek and save, and such were many that have felt his saving power. See in David a murderer pardoned ; in Paul, a persecutor and blasphemer forgiven and saved. See from the Corinthian church many admitted to heaven, that once were extortioners, and drunkards, and for. picators, and adulterers, and idolaters, and even guilty of nameless abominations. But when the Spirit brought them to repentance, the blood of Jesus blotted out all their atroci. ous crimes, and it could be said to them, “ Ye are washed, ye are sanctified, ye are justified by the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of our God." You are not to seek comfort from the hope, that your crimes have been small; but from reposing your hope on Him whose blood cleanses from all sin. Did the servant, who sought mercy when he owed ten thousand talents, meet a refusal because the debt was so great ? Did the creditor forgive the debtor, who owed fifty pence, but refuse to forgive him, who owed five hundred ? Did he not forgive one as well as the other ? and he that had most forgiven loved the most.