Page images
PDF
EPUB

influence upon the mind, simply because the mind is under the direction of regular and uniform laws of thought and action! But another difficulty is raised. “Granting,” it is said, “ the possibility of a Divine influence, how is this to be reconciled with the freedom of human agency ?” I answer : Just as many other apparent difficulties are to be reconciled, where one truth seems to clash with another, by establishing each on its own proper basis, by its own proper proofs; and then acknowledging, with a candid and humble mind, that we blind and erring mortals cannot fathom all the works and dispensations of the infinite and eternal Spirit. Our Saviour has expressly declared, in the words of our text, “ No man can come to me, except the Father, which hath sent me, draw him.” These are the words of Him who, by way of eminence, called himself “ The Truth.” His declaration is enough to satisfy us, that God does exercise a divine influence upon man ; especially since it has been shewn, that there is nothing in this inconsistent with all that we can discover of the structure and laws of the human mind. That we are free agents, we know by our own consciousness. Here, then, each of these truths has its own proper proof: both satisfactory, both convincing; and if we reject both on account of apparent inconsistencies and difficulties, we may as well turn sceptics at once on all moral and religious subjects, nay on many subjects connected with the daily concerns and conduct of our life. Let us tremble, then, my brethren, at the thought of

tesisting and grieving that Spirit of grace which alone is able to draw us to Jesus Christ. Let us no longer do this by cherishing unwise and wicked doubts respecting the reality and efficacy of his in fluence.

[ocr errors]

II. In the second place, Pride disdains this influence.-A feeling of dependence on God, whether for temporal or spiritual good, is of all other emotions, the most repugnant to the sinful heart. Yet why should it be so ? God is our Creator, our Preserver, our constant Benefactor. To him we are indebted for life and breath, and all things. His visitation preserves our spirits. He feeds and clothes

His bounty fills our cup, and causeth it to overflow with blessings. Should he at this moment withdraw his supporting hand, we should be blotted out from existence. Should he withhold his kindness and long-suffering, and deal with us according to our just deserts, we should cease to be prisoners of hope-we should open our eyes upon that world, where all is horror, and anguish, and despair. And yet this Being, so good, so gracious, and so merciful, receives not the homage of our dependence. Especially is the sinner prone to reject the influence and assistance of God, in what relates to the salvation of his soul. " The wicked, through the pride of his countenance, will not seek after God-God is not in all his thoughts." Alas! how does such conduct prove his extreme folly and guilt! How little has he yet detected of that ignorance of reli

gious truth, under which his dark and benighted understanding labours; of that weakness and insufficiency of human resolution which is so unable to cope with temptation, which yields to the first assaults of the adversary, and is taken captive by him at his will; of that dominion of sin within his breast which binds and enslaves him in the miserable thraldom of " the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eye, and the pride of life.” Could he once be brought to feel this bis ignorance, and weakness, and guilt, and to exclaim with the humble Apostle, “ We are not sufficient of ourselves to think any thing as of ourselves, but our sufficiency is of God,” how earnestly would he ask for, and how gratefully and devoutly would he cherish, that spirit which alone can draw the proud and rebellious to Jesus Christ! And having felt the sweet attractions of his grace, how ready would he be to say with the same Apostle, “ By the grace of God, I am what I am!

III. In the third place, Self-righteousness does not want this influence.-For others, it may indeed be necessary; for extortioners, for the unjust, for adulterers, for the poor publican; but for him who fasts and prays; who pays tithes of all that he possesses for the support of the civil and religious institutions of his country ; who goes with “ the multitude” to the house of God," with the voice of joy and praise, with the multitude that keep holy

day;" who practises all the kind and endearing charities of life ; who “ lays judgment to the line, and righteousness to the plummet, in all his conduct and concerns with his fellow-men; that he must be “ created anew in Christ Jesus unto good works," is what he cannot feel, and will not believe. -Behold here, my brethren, another striking proof of the depravity of the human heart, in thus opposing the necessity of a Divine influence. For what saith our text ? “ No inan can come to me, except the Father, which hath sent me, draw him.” No man : no; not even the amiable and interesting young man of the Gospel, who fancied that he had kept all the commandments of God from his youth up, and whom Jesus, in the exercise of that social sympathy and benevolence which he had, as partaking of our human nature, regarded with a look of tenderness and love. All, all have sinned, and must be drawn by the influence of the Holy Spirit, before they will resort to Jesus Christ. Ye, then, my brethren, who “ think that ye stand, take heed lest ye fall.” No longer, through ignorance of God's righteousness, “

go about to establish your own." Acknowledge the necessity, and humbly invoke the aid of that Divine grace which is alone efficacious to remove the film which now blinds your moral vision; to enable you to see, that, although fancying youselves“ rich and increased with goods, and in need of nothing, you are indeed wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind,

and naked ;” and to lead you to that Saviour who came not " to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.”

IV. In the fourth place, Slothfulness is waiting for this influence.-Forgetting that we are commanded to work out our own salvation with fear and trembling; unmindful of the precepts, “ Draw nigh to God, and he will draw nigh to you-Cleanse your hands, ye sinners, and purify your hearts, ye double-minded”-the slothful sinner excuses his delay and palliates his guilt by pleading in his defence the very doctrine which it is the object of this discourse to establish.

“ God alone,” he says, “can change the heart, and therefore I will wait for his influence." But “ the desire of the slothful killeth him, for his hands refuse to labour.” He sits down satisfied in his guilt: no alarms of conscience, no contrition for sin, no dread of futurity can arouse him from this slumber of death. Not even the cry of “Lord, save me," escapes his lips. And are you sure, my fellow-sinner, that you have always been thus waiting for the Spirit of God to touch your heart ? Have you never felt his monitory suggestions and influences ? Has no religious truth of deep and interesting import been dropped within your hearing by a friend, or pressed upon your attention from the sacred desk by the ministers of God's word ? Has no salutary counsel of a watchful and tender parent been given with all the earnest

« PreviousContinue »