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ple, the gift of God, and not the native energy of the mind. If then, to preserve the soul in its sanctity, grace be necessary in those easy cases where reason and experience co-operate in its favor, how shall the feeble spirit of man wrestle, unassisted, against the powerful legions of hell? He cannot, as the Scriptures declare, unless he put on the whole armor of God; gird truth upon his loins, take righteousness for his breastplate, peace for his sandals, salvation for his helmet, and the word of God for his sword. But all these are weapons tempered in heaven, and provided for him out of the armory of God; they are diversified forms of operations of grace whereby God empowers his servants to maintain their conflicts. Thus it appears, how the needfulness of grace shews the suitableness of the Apostle's wish.
The desirableness of grace to the saints exhibits the propriety of his salutation in another particular. He met their wishes, and told of a gratifying subject when he spoke of their increase of grace: for in consequence of that renovation of taste wrought in them from above, the children of God have a real affection to holiness—find in it the sweetest enjoyment--and press after it with unconquerable ardor. One thing I do, says St. Paul, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.* They love all the means of grace; all those employments which are con-stituted by God to be the channels of this desired influence. Thus the Psalmist speaking of public worship, One thing have I desired of the Lord, that will I seek after, that I may
* Pbil. iii, 13, 14.
dwell in the house of the Lord; and of the Scriptures he
says, O how I love thy Law! all the day long is my study in it. And if there be a train of thought that has at any time. led their minds to a frame of devotion, they endeavor to recal those reflections, that they may again enjoy those devotional feelings which they would constantly retain. If it were, therefore, proposed to the choice of a saint, as it was to Solomon, what he would request, all his desires would be concentrated in this, "that he might receive more grace."
And not only is grace itself so desirable to him, but the manner in which he is to obtain it, according to the economy of redemption, is pleasing to him. It accords with his inclination rather to receive occasional supplies from God the Father and our Lord Jesus Christ, than to possess resources in himself. He is contented to have no resource of grace, but to be dependent on God through Christ.
Let us apply the same remarks to the othor part of the Apostolic salutation. Peace, as well as grace, is a proper subject of a Christian wish: because it is both necessary and desirable. Peace with God and with conscience is that blissful enjoyment we receive by being in Christ: for being justified by faith, we have
peace with God, through our Lord Jesus Christ;* and it is a peace to which every other man is a stranger: for there is no peace, saith to the wicked. But beside this peace, there is a certain tranquillity and evenness of mind, which, however favorable to our sanctification, we find it exceedingly difficult to preserve amidst the confusion of this life. It is our aim and purpose to regard this world with the eye of a stranger to pass on without seeking a rest below-to feel indifferent where others are interested—and while we discharge our duties in life with diligence, to reflect continually that the world and all the things of it are passing away. But alas! how seldom do we adhere to our purpose with steadiness -how often do we stop to look around us where we ought to be pursuing our way-how often lend an ear to trifling conversation, or trifling thoughtshow often are we carried away by the stream of general example, and suffer our worldly concerns to engross our minds; nay, are disposed to justify our anxiety! Thus the peace of our minds is disturbed, and the consequences are highly injurious to our spiritual interests: for when there is little heavenly-mindedness, self-recollection, and serenity, a Christian temper is maintained with difficulty. We cannot as we are commanded, be prepared for every good word and work; nor indeed, be in any respect qualified to adorn the doctrine of God our Savior. That this peace, so necessary, so
desirable, and yet so difficult to be preserved, is the gift of God, and therefore, properly the subject of a wish or prayer, is sufficiently evident from numerous passages of Scripture: The
peace of God, which passeth all understanding, keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus. Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose hope is stayed on thee. The Lord of peace himself give you peace always by all means
. Nothing more appearing necessary for the elucidation of the text, it will be useful to reconsider the two points which have been discussed: first, by applying to ourselves the description given of the Christian; secondly, by adopting the Apostle's salutation.
1. Inquire brethren, into the state of religion in your hearts; and if you would form a correct estimate, apply the Apostle's description of the Christian character to your own. It is not to be expected that your's will corres. pond to it in every particular, but is there a resemblance! are the same characteristic lineaments to be discerned in each? If, to refer to the particulars before insisted on, we inquire concerning our election of the Father, let us ask if we have chosen him for our portion; if so, it proves that we are chosen by him: this being the Scipture mode of arguing, We love him, because he first loved us.
The book of life need not be opened to us, for our names are there.
2. In the next place, what are our views of the Son of God? It were, easy to say that we
depend on his merits; many nominal Christians may say as much, understanding neither what they say, nor whereof they affirm: they receive the Christian doctrine of atonement, partly because they have no reason to object to it, and partly because, in their views of it, it supplies their defects, or in other words, countenances sin.
We shall act more justly by inquiring whether that moment has yet occurred, when, sensible of our desert of God's wrath and damnation, we have actually fled for refuge to Christ? If so, happy are ye; the Spirit of glory and of God resteth upon you“ if otherwise, no Christian profession, no external correctness of conduct will compensate for the want of a vital union to Christ.
Lastly, adverting to the remaining part of the Apostle's description, are we sanctified in Christ Jesus? For the solution of this question let your spirit and conversation be inspected: for å test more unequivocal cannot be applied. A tree is known by its fruits; and the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, long-suffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance. * You will observe in this circle of Christian virtues something more than honesty, harmlessness, or any negative virtue. You will per. ceive that those that are sanctified in Christ Jesus, will bear some resemblance at least to the divine original, in all the various excellencies that adorned his character. May we then see in you the image of our Lord Jesus Christ!
* Gal. v, 22, 23,